Saturday, October 2, 2010
Our house was one block from the beach and thanks to the generosity of good friends, it was a walk through their woods behind our house to the seven acres where our horses resided in the same fields and barn where I rode horses as a child.
We didn't advertise there were horses on lower Browns Point. We worried about liability, children getting into the pasture and perhaps getting hurt, etc., not to mention the loss of privacy to our generous neighbors who allowed us to keep horses on their property.
However, children did show up to see our horses, usually towards the end of summer, right before school started. I'd offer to spend time with them, showing them all about horses, but requested they not come up to see the horses on their own. I found once school started and the weather got wet their visits stopped.
Sometimes our horses escaped. I recall one situation where one of our horses had pushed the gate open on Fourth of July. All four horses leisurely wandered down to the park on the beach to greet the crowds of people who were gathered to enjoy their holiday picnics and await the evening fireworks.
Our horses ate well that day. We got the call and arrived to find a group of about eight men, followed by a crowd of women and children, leading the horses back up the road to the barn.
Brave, generous souls these men, encouraged by their interaction with our horses, which made them even braver, who volunteered to help that day. They'd gone into their garages or boats to find ropes which they slipped over our horses's necks to lead them back home.
One of the bravest (and the oldest), rode our (feisty) Mare home bareback with only a rope around her neck. It's said he talked about that experience until the day he died and so I'm glad he did it. But I have to say I almost fainted when I saw him riding her.
Our horses came home willingly, tired from all the exercise and gorged from the treats they'd been given. These fire breathing equines were stuffed with watermelon and heaven knows what from the picnic grounds. They were exhausted and ready to settle down and take naps.
Once back in their pasture they seemed relieved. The women and children who had followed this party home approached to provide one last bit of summer holiday treat and lots of loving pets. The men stood around, coiling up their "lassos" and talking about their adventure. We gushed with gratitude, so grateful for good neighbors.
As they left the men walked a little taller, the women smiled a little wider and the children skipped and danced a little higher.
Five months later, as we did every year on Christmas Day, we brushed our horses until they shined. We spruced them up with jingle bells (we worked on getting them used to the bells months ahead of time), and again paraded them down the road that aligned our home and those on the beach for our annual Christmas morning walk, always returning promptly to pick up "road apples".
I recall all the neighbors looking forward to our yearly parade of horses. Families would come out on their doorsteps to cheer us on and wish holiday greetings. Children would come out with apples and carrots, saved for this special event. Smiles would abound from all, good will and cheer would fill the air.
Five years ago we decided to move our horses from the beach to the foothills of the Cascade Mountains. We left the smells of salt water for the smells of, well - smells of the country.
I hear it was with sadness that those along our Christmas Parade route awaited us that first holiday after we left. I hear it was later said, "The horses have left Browns Point". I wonder, five years later, how many recall our Christmas day walks and what type of response we'd get today if we were to trailer over and take that walk once more?
Definitely something to ponder.