Wednesday, December 22, 2010


Hereford, West face of the painted boulder, South
Park, Colorado. Photo: Peter Faris, 1994.

One day in the summer of 1994 I was driving down South Park in the Colorado Rockies on C-285 headed for Chaco Canyon when I came upon this idyllic scene. I do not know exactly what caused me to pay attention to this cow specifically because there is no shortage of cattle in pastures along rural roads in Colorado to observe. Something about this cow lying down in the field attracted my attention. A few seconds later I looked back in the rear-view mirror and saw the second scene. I pulled over and stopped on the shoulder of the highway before turning around and going back to take the pictures included here.

This erratic boulder in the field which so resembles in size and shape the form of a reclining cow had been (as you can see) painted to look like just that, and cleverly, whoever the artist had been, a different breed was used for each side. The east face of the boulder resembled (to my eyes anyway) a Holstein while the west face of the boulder was obviously a Hereford. They were certainly well enough done that they stood up to a casual glance and I was at least momentarily fooled by the scene.

Holstein, East face of painted boulder, South
Park, Colorado. Photo: Peter Faris, 1994.

To me this is a wonderful example of playfulness, whoever painted this boulder (and I assume that it was the rancher who owns the land it lies on) took the time and effort with no possible profit other than the joy involved. And it has been kept up as far as I know. The last time I saw it was just a couple of years ago and it was still painted although the paint looked much less fresh than when I first saw it. In its current incarnation it is not painted as two different breeds, at my last observation of it both sides were painted to look like the Hereford.

Each time I drive down C-285 I look forward to visiting my old friend, and it has been that way for the past sixteen years. My thanks to that anonymous rancher for adding a spot of joy to the world. Oh, and by the way, good job painting too!

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