It's grand to have the luxury of time to let my mind wander at will (and sometimes against my will). Unless I'm embroiled with Percy and Pal, milking is a chore that promotes free-wheeling thoughts. Going round and round on Fu Manchu gives ample time for day-trippin'. Sitting with Bess at the end of the deck is like sitting in the station just waiting for the train to come rolling in. Sometimes I project ahead, but with more past behind me than future in front, I often go backwards in time as I did the other day while looking at big white clouds piling up over the mountains. Thunderheads. Hmmm. And I was off on a trip.
Like a lot of girls, I was crazy about horses from the git-go. Back in the day, riding stables with horses to rent were everywhere. They're a thing of the past now. I was very young when my dad started taking me riding. I was given lessons, but riding alone with him is one of my first memories. When I wasn't riding horses, I was reading about them, every book I could get my hands on. Thunderhead and Flicka and the great series by Will James, including Smoky the Cowhorse. Steinbeck's The Red Pony left me sobbing. Black Beauty and The Black Stallion were read again and again. Papa, my grandfather, was a resource for Louis L'Amour and other western writers. (I also got my first anatomy lessons from Papa's collection of National Geographic magazines.) I flew to Seventh Heaven on my twelfth birthday when Daddy surprised me with Teddy, a Quarter Horse-Morgan, totally bomb-proof and the best first horse any girl could wish for. It was a different world then. A little girl could ride alone anywhere and be safe. I would go out for moonlight rides by myself and no one gave it a second thought. Now there are kids who don't know what it is like to even play in their own front yard because of very real danger. Sadly, Teddy died a couple of years later. To ease my grief, Daddy bought me Slippery's Chance, a big red Tennessee Walker, one of those wonderful gaited horses with a ride like a rocking chair. Slip had been gelded late and never lost his interest in the ladies. We'd moved by then and were near to a bridle trail that led into the mountains. Again, I'd be gone all day on my horse with his tireless stride eating up the ground. And then I went away to boarding school and eventually Slip was sold. For years and years later, my dreams were filled with riding.
Who knew that clouds were the ticket to a trip to the past.