My most memorable New Year’s Day took place five years ago on a cold, clear morning in another life. We awoke to find a 30-acre lake where there had been pasture the night before. The Arkansas River had been rising ominously for days, and when it got high enough, it always backed up the bayou into our place. But nobody remembered seeing it quite so high. Only about 10 acres around the house and barn remained high and dry.

I looked for my favorite cow, Trudy, who’d been due to give birth. A great beauty with a sweet disposition, Trudy loved having her ears scratched. Her best friend, Stella, would stand at a distance when Trudy would approach me for petting. Two years earlier, Trudy had delivered a stillborn bull calf. She and Stella had spent hours side by side, nudging the baby to stand.

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