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September 15, 2003

She Ran Calling Wildfire

Church picnic today, so fried chicken fell like manna from heaven, or at least seemed to have, given its ubiquitousness. It was held at at a farm south of Chapel Hill, so there was a pond for fishing in, fields to run in, horses to feed, ponies to ride, and an anacronism so startling it took the breath away.

The original air traffic control tower from the Raleigh-Durham airport, perched on top of a metal pole beside the pond, towering 50 feet over our heads.

"Retired in 1958," said the sign on the side. Presumably it has spent the years since as a children's playhouse. Ngnat and her Sunday School chums, daughters of a girl I taught to sail when she wasn't much older than her children are now, were drawn to the steep staircase ascending to the control room at the top like moths to a particularly high and rusty flame.

We followed our children up, the husband of the girl and I, carefully guiding them away from the numerous child size gaps between the guardrails. All at once we were at the top and able to relax, as the deck attached to the control room was much better equipped in the guardrail area than the stairs leading up to it. Ngnat waved down at her mother. I noted a beer can in the pond just below us, so perhaps the tower has seen an activities somewhat less innocuous those involving pre-K Sunday School girls in its past.

Yes, out of all the scenery in the vast landscape afforded us by the lofty view, I spotted a beer can. Perhaps the eye is drawn most to what the soul behind it desires most.

If so, then I'm in trouble, for just as the beer can swam into my view the horses walked into Ngnat's.

"Horsies!" shrieked she and her compatriots. Nothing to be done but descend down the entirely too steep metal staircase at all speed.

Ngnat sparked a suspicion on my part that she might be a horse girl by feeding several of the gigantic equines grass from her own hand without complaint, while kids a year older than her threw down their grass and burst into tears as the massive heads made their way towards the next proffered snack. I spent a good ten minutes ripping grass from the bank of the pond for her to poke at horse mouths. She kept trying to attract the attention of one in particular, a white Appaloosa to my eye, not that I know a single thing about horses other than that riding lessons are bloody expensive, but he shunned her repeated attempts to feed him, walking slowly away while she plaintively walked down the fenceline, tufts of grass held up in supplication.

Scotty M. genially smiled at the one horse he was presented to, or rather he smiled at the gigantic eyeball six inches in front of him after I lifted him up for a better view. He smiles at anything and everything, so his evident pleasure in matters ungulatal didn't engender a degree of foreboding equivalent to that created by his sister. Besides, as a male he's less susceptible to horse madness.

After the ponies arrived and rides began, Ngnat confirmed my suspicions. On her first ride, her very first ride ever, mind you, she took her hands from the pommel and extended her arms off to the side, looking for all the world like Kate Winslet on the bow of the Titanic.

Or Bonnie Blue Butler. I couldn't decide which.

After six pony rides, or rather four pony rides, a miniature pony ride and a donkey ride, dinner was called for, and we feasted upon the aforementioned fried chicken and many others things besides, such as deviled eggs and chicken casserole. All was very good, though in my opinion people who bring store-bought frozen chicken nuggets to a Southern covered-dish church picnic should be ridden out out town on a rail, even if they do make good bait for bream.

Which they do. And let me tell you, there was plenty of bait to go round.

We brought fried chicken, of course, and none of it was used for bait.

Posted by Bigwig at September 15, 2003 12:58 AM | TrackBack
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Know this: you will not come between a girl and her horse. I believe you already own a horse; you'll just be borrowing another persons for riding lessons, then for those gosh awful riding show thingies complete with expensive wardrobe.

But also know that, come 12-13 and the blossoming of the early teen years, horses are much better than young suitors for those of us who are not ready to be grandparents quite yet. Our daughter's life was certainly enriched by horses, even if our budget was correspondingly impoverished.

Posted by: fredf at September 15, 2003 06:06 AM

Yep, she's a goner. :)

Posted by: peggy at September 15, 2003 09:08 AM

Horses are holes in the pasture you throw money into

Riding lessons several times a week, shows on Sat and Sun..

Vet bills, farriers, tack, attire, 3 kinds of feed, riding lessons, truck and trailer, feeding twice a day, grooming..etc, etc, etc... You spend your life eternally broke..

They are like having 1000 lb. toddlers, always testing the limit to see just what they can get away with today.

They are also, loyal, loving, and extremely protective of their "person"

It's absolute heaven :)

Wendy...who took delivery of 300 bales of alfalfa this morning..ka-ching.

Posted by: Wendy at September 15, 2003 10:13 PM
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