Going belly up's not such a bad thing
July 21, 2010
So I'm on my way to work Thursday morning in the usual semi-fog brought about by the automatic pilot button on hyper speed. Though I get up at 5:45 every morning and don't get behind the desk until 9, I'm always in a huge hurry.
The normal routine involves a half-hour minimum of coffee-guzzling time, during which I make my breakfast and lunch to transport to the office, along with yet another minimum eight bottles of water (yes I know, I know.)
Next comes the workout—some 20 minutes of yoga followed by 45 on the elliptical and a couple of minutes of light weights. Then it's time to water the plants, fill the bird feeders and let the chickens and ducks out of the coop before jumping in the shower (usually still sweating) and getting on with it. Ironically, the "getting ready" part (showering, so-called makeup and so-called hair) takes the least time. I've got it down to a 20 minute max, which includes choosing a so-called outfit and taped-up shoes.
By the time I run around and close and lock all the windows, lug the bags of lunch and water and the to-go cup of coffee to the vehicle and double-check to make sure I have my phone and (on some days) camera bag, I'm pretty scattered when I get behind the wheel of the-car-that-is-someone-elses-but-is-really-mine-now.
So I'm buzzing by this place on Dryden Road where no one lives except four horses.
People used to live there with the horses, but I was never sure which came first, the people or the horses. Over the years it seemed a few different people lived there and I recall a 'For Rent' sign in the windows every now and then.
The last tenants scattered when the place was raided by law enforcement officials who were investigating a lawn equipment theft ring.
After the sudden vacancy, some people were there at the house every day. They brought in a big dumpster and cleared things out. Through all this the horses remained.
I love those horses, though my only contact with them is as I'm driving by. There are two Appalosa looking ones—white with black spots—and two that are a fawny golden color. They are majestic, lean, and seemingly quite content. They have provided me with the first real-life sight of a horse sitting down comfortably in the pasture, it's forelegs tucked under like a little lamb. In all the times I'd ever seen horses—at the fairs, in pastures, on TV, I've never ever seen one sitting so contentedly. I feel lucky every time I do.
They always seem to have ample piles of fresh hay and big, oval metal tubs of water, though I never see people bringing the hay or filling the tubs. The horses are also apparently rounded up into two different pastures—one near the old wooden barn and one on the other side of the vacant house, where the grass is knee high now.
These horses are like a touchstone for me on my way to and from work so if I don't see them I sort of panic. Usually it just requires a glance back over my shoulder as I'm whizzing by... 'oh, there they are.'
So on Thursday when it's already nearing 80 degrees as 9 a.m. approaches and I whiz by and see one of the white and black spotted horses in what looks like a (dreaded) belly-up pose, my heart drops like a piece of lead. My foot jams on the brake (there's no traffic) and in the middle of Dryden Road I pull a quick U-ee and go back by the house. My mind is racing—what should I do? Who should I call? Who would know how to reach the owners? Who would care?
I squeal into the small portion of gravel driveway that's not closed off by a chained, iron gate and do a double-take. All four horses are up on their muscular, sturdy legs, gently nibbling at the pile of hay. Rather than something from the Night Gallery, the scene looks like an Andrew Wyeth painting and I seriously begin to question my mental health.
With great relief I continue on to work. Later I relate the story to a friend, who gently relates to me that horses sometimes do get on their backs and roll around, scratching and rubbing themselves on the cool earth.
Knowing what a good feeling that can sometimes be, I figure maybe I should work it into my morning routine. It might help with a lot of things.
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Catherine Minolli is Managing Editor of the Tri-City Times. She began as a freelance writer with the Times in 1994. She enjoys the country life, including raising ducks and chickens.