Friday, August 14, 2015
The path that takes you back
When I was five, we lived on five acres in West St. Paul, in what used to be the carriage house of a 50 acre hobby farm. It was by far my favorite house of all the homes we lived in-and there were many. The house was tiny, and my father, an architect, expanded the ceilings and upper attic for my brother, and there were two small bedrooms on the first floor, one for me and the other for my parents. There was an outdoor riding ring, and most days I would venture out there and just sit in the ring, imagining having a horse. I so wanted a horse.
There were narrow paths through out the property, trodden down by deer, and horses. Two teenage girls were allowed to come ride in the arena, Wendy had a quarter horse and Marta had a striking palomino mare named Sky. I was in love with the girls and their horses. If I saw them coming out the window I'd run to the arena. My mother would say,
"Don't pester them for a ride!"
I would wait patiently by the riding ring, taking in the smells of the saddle leather, and horse sweat. And Wendy, the one with the quarter horse, always would give me a ride at the end. Looking back, that is something I would do today for a child, but I realize how nice it was of her. Often, Sky would buck Marta off, and would flee back a mile back to her home barn. It always left Marta the owner in tears. Sometimes Marta would come and baby sit me, and she'd play her guitar and draw horses. I was just learning to draw and to me Marta was like one of those beautiful hippie girls I'd see on TV, with long legs and hair.
I think about them from time to time, wonder if they are still around, and what happened to their horses.
But mostly, when I walk on the many narrow paths around our farm, usually I take a trip back to that house and property of long ago. It's a good trip, lasts but a few seconds. It is how we carry our families with us over our lives. It is not grief. It is how life is worn on us, and in us, in our memories.