I'm off this morning to the airport to fly off to Missouri where I'll attend the Children's Literature Festival hosted by the University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg, which I've attended for at least fifteen years, maybe more. The festival brings over 30 authors to campus to speak to over 5000 children, who are bused in from all over the state, some traveling two hours each direction simply to come to the festival and share the joys of talking about books with the people who write them.
The festival is always the same. Many of the same authors return every year, so we cherish our once-a-year festival friendships, catching up on everything that has happened to us in the previous year. (I'm certainly bringing pictures of new grandbaby Kataleya). The authors go on a shoe-buying party to the old-timey shoe store in downtown Warrensburg where gentleman in suits measure our feet with that old-fashioned foot-measuring thing. Then we go across the street to Heroes, a cozy restaurant/bar where we order their signature drink, the Unknown Hero, and onion rings. We take a long walk on Sunday morning with the stated objective: "see cows."
This year I'm going to navigate both airports - Denver and Kansas City - in a wheelchair. I can still give my four talks a day to the children, perching on a table (as I've been teaching my classes) rather than striding back and forth in front of the room. I can still do the nightly gabfests. I will still buy a pair of shoes, though won't walk around the store to test how comfortable they are (all of their shoes are comfortable). I will definitely down an Unknown Hero (or two) and my share of onion rings.
But I won't go walk to see the cows.
That's a sad thought for me.
But not too sad. Sometimes in life there are years when you don't go see the cows. Then there are other years when you do. My broken foot will heal. A year from now I'll be leading the way to the cows. This year, I'll stay in my room, broken foot elevated, and work on the copy-edited manuscript for Izzy Barr, Running Star, and that will be satisfying, too.
No cows this year. But, God willing, cows next year. And cows the year after that.