I recently purchased a cow painting named “Bohemian Bovine” by a local artist, to go with the collection of cow paintings we currently have hanging on our kitchen wall. No one could have convinced me, just a few years back, that I would be the proud owner of a handful of cow canvases and always on the lookout for another. Admiring my new purchase and contemplating the best look of frame to surround it with brought me back to a time of travel, many years ago, and a souvenir that I, honestly, couldn’t remember if I still had. I hadn’t had it hanging in my home for sixteen years and didn’t know where it was or what I had done with it.
As I was frantic, digging through the clutter of items in our storage room, hoping and praying it was still in my possession, I kept thinking… “Have I discarded it in an attempt to simplify my world by purging unnessessary items and decor that no longer fit in with my current space or taste like I have so many other objects throughout the years? Please tell me, of all the things I’ve gotten rid of in my life, that this isn’t one of them! Why did I get rid of something that is now, so very precious to me?” After a few long, very nervous, on the verge of “kicking myself” minutes, I came across my forgotten token, in a large plastic tote, surrounded by insignificant items from times past, a Swiss cow bell with a blue and white patterned strap.
I had purchased this cow bell while spending time in the Alps of Germany, Austria and Switzerland with my parents and sister. My mind takes me back to a particular morning during my teenage years, staying in a bed and breakfast in the Swiss Alps. The clean, cool, crisp morning air crept in our open window with the sun’s first rays and brushed my exposed face. I was snuggled under a feather duvet which I recall being no less than eight inches thick and heavy…. a good heavy. As I lie sunken, enveloped by the comfort of the soft, warm feather bed beneath me, which I had never before had the pleasure of experiencing, I could hear a couple of milk cows outside the dark brown wooden shutter windows with their clanking bells in the not so far off distance. Our small, simple yet quaint, tudor chalet was nestled on a steep incline on the mountainside, tucked among tall green hay with their tassels swaying ever so gently in the early morning breeze. My thoughts, even as a teenager, “This must be what Heaven is. I’m thousands of miles away from my Kansas home, but this is definitely paradise. A paradise on Earth.”. Out of almost fifty years of life, there are a handful of moments like this that stick out like no other in my mind. It wasn’t a dramatic moment full of excitement and adventure with a sudden rush of adrenalin, it was the opposite; a gentle, easy feeling of comfort and tranquility that was satisfying to the depths of my soul.
It was peace.
What a relief to find this momento, a simple cow bell, of a beautiful moment in time with my family in a picturesque mountainous setting. I’m sure I could go online and find a Swiss cow bell for little to nothing, but this one, after thirty years, resides with me in my forever home. I’ll rest easy tonight knowing this old cow bell is hanging where it can be glanced at frequently and, within seconds, take my mind on a journey to a place of peace in a charming, modest chalet in the Alps.