I have horses again…

I have horses again. It astounds me just how much that has come to mean to me. The modern world is so very fast paced, so technical and cold- you have forgotten what it means to travel, inured from the reality of it by machines that whisk you along in pampered comfort to any point on the globe. The idea of mounting a horse or, God forbid, walking from say Harrisburg to Philadelphia is an abstract concept. It is something one considers for purposes of raising money to treat children’s cancer, or protesting against the outrage du jour, but never as a mere necessity. Never as an aspect of everyday life. I once walked from Southern California to Jefferson City, Missouri. Why would I do such a thing? It was the only way to get to one place from the other.

Just contemplating such things saddens me somewhat. I do despise sounding as a Luddite, for I am no romantic pining away for the lost and irretrievable past. The modern world is a place of wonders, a tangible utopia for those whose perspectives are properly attuned. You expect to live unto the morrow as a matter of course, even under the worst of conditions. I envy you that certainty even as I share it to some degree.

Enough of this pointless maundering over thoughts and notions- I have horses again, three to be exact. With the stable completed and the opportunity to act upon me I was suddenly moved to unaccustomed haste. My accountant is horrified, bleating on about the difference between liquid and hard assets and the erosion of principal. So long as the checks clear I could not care less. I have three beautiful Arabians, two bay geldings and a stunning grey mare, all just three years old and full of energy.

Why am I moved almost to tears to have them here? I had not thought to mount a horse for other than the briefest moment for nearly thirty years. Now I cannot keep myself away from the stables, reveling in the smell and the labor much to the amusement of my newly hired hands, a girl of twenty-one named Heather and her younger brother Thomas. They work for a reasonable wage and the opportunity to ride, assuming they show themselves responsible. I harbor no doubts of them for in these matters my judgment is as sound as can be, but I shall hold back so as to avoid seeming easily swayed. They take my presence in the stables as a manner of measuring their worth, but Heather has seen me standing at the paddock, gasping as emotions well up unbidden, and she wonders.

I call the mare Melody. It is a bit of hopeless nostalgia, and silly upon its face, as I have never been particularly attached to horses. I like them, mind you, but to find myself moved to do such a thing leaves me open to questioning my motives and perhaps even my sanity. Yet when I took my first ride, just a leisurely journey to feel out the land and see what trails there were to follow, it was occasioned by a wrenching sense of dislocation: it felt wrong to be alone in this place, in this way. Astride my Melody, rocking with her sure and gentle gait, it was so easy to lose sight of the real world and sink back into memory… and realize just what was missing.

I passed him on the way back to the stables. The cemetery is now well groomed, the iron fence replaced with its gate repaired, the stones all cleaned and straightened with fresh flowers to adorn them. I paused there, rooted in place by my sudden understanding. This place was returning to life- the house, the land, and the people. These are all good things, but they are not what I want most. What I want most is forever beyond my reach.

But I have horses again.

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