Just yesterday, we accepted the invitation eagerly:  a socially distanced cookout for a small number of people, all outside. 

In a cow pasture. 

We have gathered as a group for over 25 years.  We’ve done weddings, Memorial Day cookouts, 4th of July parties, New Year’s brunches.  We heralded the arrival of our children with baby showers, then baptisms and, eventually, graduations.  We have even now started in on the second round of marriages and baby showers. 

But we have never actually organized a cookout and campfire in the middle of a cow pasture.  Nor have we ever worried before about being “appropriately socially distanced”. 

This time, we arrived carefully in our pickup trucks and four wheelers—separated by our family units we’ve been quarantining with for nearly two months.  Instead of greeting each other with hugs, we waved and nodded enthusiastically.  Instead of immediately intermixing, we carefully set up chairs with distances in mind.  Still, we managed to enjoy our supper, tell stories, and laugh. 

All the while, the cows grazed around us, their lives continuing as though it were just another day.  The fact that people had decided to gather in their midst left them completely unimpressed.  For them, this is “just another day”, of course.  The changes that humanity has been living through don’t matter to them.

The cows wandered back and forth, calmly going about their evening routine.  The air chilled as the sun set.  We threw another log on the fire, and drew in a bit closer (but not too close).  The stars came out, and we tried to identify the big dipper, little dipper and north star.  The cows settled in for the night, babies curled up next to moms. 

A silver lining for all of us:  a creative celebration amongst the cows, with friends figuring out how to be festive—and safe–in ways we would never have dreamt up before.