“Horse sense is the thing a horse has which keeps it from betting on people.” ~W.C. Fields
We had our first trek to the races this year on Memorial Day, and we couldn’t have asked for more beautiful weather and camaraderie. Our daughter and her fiance joined us for the afternoon. It was the opening weekend for the track, and there was a mass of spectators. Standing among the crowd in the warmth of the sun’s rays, we heard a flyover of military jets. We knew in our hearts they were commemorating our nation’s valiant. We even saw a couple of young men donned in Civil War costumes, one blue, one gray.
As far as betting on the horses, I didn’t fare too well. I lost six dollars, but we did have free admittance. My three losses (but winners in my heart) were Aspen Mist, Gimmea Sugar Break, and Chocolate Diva. By the sound of the latter two, I might have had a sweet tooth. I did fall in love with an eight year old Thoroughbred named County Clerk. The chestnut gelding has had a respectable racing career, but lately he’s been showing a tendency to not responding, failing to menace, and taking mild trips on the inside, according to the critics. However, let’s give credit where credit is due. He also has passed tiring foes. I see a handsome creature who will someday be a good riding horse for someone. After all, upon entering the saddling area, he was walked in hand by an elderly gent with a cane. The seasoned equine exhibited an air of calmness; he has paid his dues. I would be remiss, if I didn’t mention my husband won $18 on a Colorado bred bay Thoroughbred named, Paddy Boy, who was a long shot. Whenever in doubt, go for the color of the silks. Paddy’s jockey wore orange that complimented well the horse’s brown coat.
“Like a big mountain, a small garden stimulates, restores, and delights us, just as it poses challenges, promotes mastery, provides exercise and relieves monotony.”
– The Power of Place, Winifred Gallagher
I planted some xeriscape plants a number of years ago, when our state was in the throes of a drought. These are native foliage and though one would see them in the mountains, alongside the road, on the plains, and even in rundown parking lots, the plants are sold in nurseries. I would rather purchase, because I have no inclination to dig on public land. This little area is now termed the dogs’ garden, because Trixie (or sometimes spelled Trixy, depending on my mood) would always take a shortcut smack through the middle of it on her way back to the garage. We even acquired a stone that reads dogs leave paw prints on our hearts, when we decided to create a walkway. Though my plants have survived every element imaginable for this part of the country, they still need breathing room. The bottom photo shows a small plant displaying white blossom pride now that the heavy greenery that overshadowed it for several years has been finally transplanted.
Every man is surrounded by a neighborhood of voluntary spies. ~Jane Austen
Here’s one of our new neighbors this year. He checked out the surroundings to see if it’s to his liking and was totally oblivious to being photographed by my husband. The young antelope spies on us; we spy on him. It’s been determined he’s not here to execute a black bag operation.
Now something I don’t want to spy is a skunk. The news reports there are sightings of rabid skunks this year. Since I came upon strong odor of skunk spray while on one of my morning strolls, I will suspend my jaunts until I deem it safe. I have no desire to be chased by a crazed Mephitis Mephitis. My husband suggested that I take my pistol. (!) I said it seems to defeat the purpose of a quiet country walk having to pack my Colt 380 under my tattered hoodie. Such is country life. 🙂
This morning I set out to walk in the fog, and it turned into an illuminating experience. I was met by a gentle doe on the corner of road 5 and Grant. The other day I was briefly greeted by another deer, or perhaps these two are one of the same. At the moment I saw her, I had no doubt she would continue on her way in the opposite direction across the field. I was mistaken and could not believe I suddenly had a walking companion. This gentle creature followed behind, romped alongside and ahead, bouncing as if to invite me to play. I did my best to not encourage her. A driver stopped her car to take a video of this event, and I was wishing I had my own camera to capture this delight. We strolled together for two miles, and she escorted me home. My husband was waiting, and I thought the young animal might be fearful. She wasn’t; she walked right up to him, and he scratched her head. The doe proceeded to the flowers to check what could be appetizing and then left on her merry way. This happening left me with mixed emotions. On one hand, it was a joy to experience her temporary friendship; on the other hand, it saddens me that she had no fear, of which could be her demise some day at the hands of an unkind person.
I decided to research the reason behind lone does. We see at least one every year. Even though I didn’t find my answer, the search led me to a touching poem by an eighteenth century British poet, William Cowper:
I Was a Stricken Deer
I was a stricken deer that left the herd
Long since; with many an arrow deep infixt
My panting side was charged when I withdrew
To seek a tranquil death in distant shades.
There was I found by one who had himself
Been hurt by th’ archers. In his side he bore
And in his hands and feet the cruel scars.
With gentle force soliciting the darts
He drew them forth, and heal’d and bade me live.
Since then, with few associates, in remote
And silent woods I wander, far from those
My former partners of the peopled scene,
With few associates, and not wishing more.
Here much I ruminate, as much I may,
With other views of men and manners now
Than once, and others of a life to come.
I see that all are wand’rers, gone astray
Each in his own delusions; they are lost
In chace of fancied happiness, still wooed
And never won. Dream after dream ensues,
And still they dream that they shall still succeed,
And still are disappointed; rings the world
With the vain stir. I sum up half mankind,
And add two-thirds of the remainder half,
And find the total of their hopes and fears
Dreams, empty dreams. The million flit as gay
As if created only like the fly
That spreads his motley wings in th’ eye of noon
To sport their season and be seen no more.
My grandmother started walking five miles a day when she was sixty. She’s ninety-three today and we don’t know where the hell she is. ~Ellen DeGeneres
9514 steps is equivalent to 4.6 miles. I have a little gadget, a pedometer, that registers the number of steps. My goal in the morning hike is 10,000 steps or five miles. I have yet to hoof the total 10,000 in one fell swoop, but I always make up the difference when I retrieve my mare from the field. I love walking, always have. Early morning is my favorite time of day for strolling and thinking. It’s more invigorating to start at sunrise, because I can solve the day’s problems before they even appear. Walking isn’t a new activity for me; I can remember back to the tender age of six, I enjoyed trekking across town to the library. In those days, I didn’t have a pedometer marking the number of steps or a television doctor suggesting how many I need. One of my warm memories was a scarf that my grandpa gave me. It had writing on it: Have scarf will travel. Apparently, it gave me purpose to keep on trucking. 🙂 I didn’t own a car until I was 25. I walked everywhere once I got off the train or bus. Even when I was expecting my daughter, I walked to the grocery store, when I no longer could balance on my bicycle. I guess this exercise will always be a part of my life, and I’ll walk until my hiking boots are taken away from me.