Ponying the Pony

I’ve had a few close calls in the saddle, in part due to rogue cows.

But last week my Thoroughbred and the perfect pony conspired to split me like a wishbone.

The nerve of those two.

I was ponying Bugsy from Chance — riding the horse while leading the pony — and feeling pretty smug about my horsemanship. I hadn’t ponied in years and here I was, exhibiting a handy command over both animals. Such competency in the saddle!

That was our first outing when Bugsy trotted dutifully along, never darting ahead or lagging behind. But the next time out, Bugsy wasn’t so keen on a forced march. Why trot around the neighborhood when you can stand still and eat?

So he lodged a passive agressive complaint: he imitated an anchor tossed off the side of a ship. At least that’s what it felt like… dragging 600 pounds of pony behind me. I clucked at him and tugged on the lead; he raised his head but resisted, barely shuffling along.

It was about that time when Chance spied the highland cows. Those odd wookie beasts. And they were  right by the road, separated by a few wisps of wire.

Attack is imminent! Chance seemed to say as he tried to bolt down the road. But Bugsy could have cared less about the livestock. A cow’s a cow, he apparently thought. Besides, he was too busy pretending to be a deployed anchor. So with the horse plunging forward and the other lagging behind, my arms felt stretched by taffy.

As I arched my back over Chance hindquarters, struggling to hang onto Bugsy line I thought, “this must be what’s yoga’s like…your body being stretched to such extremes.

But I didn’t feel flexible or revalized. I didn’t feel yoga relaxed. I wanted to return my shoulder to its socket joint and then club my horse over the head.

I did recover and next time, I’m going to drag that pony around with a stocky 4 year old on board, clad in cowboy boots.

And as for the other cows — the neighbor hamburgers — that crew continues to wreak havoc on my poor horse’s psyche. The latest scare tactic: pushing around an overturned, electric blue feed tub in the field. One particularly bored bovine used his head to roll it all over the place. But when he got the tub stuck on his head? That had an especially frightful effect on both cow and horse.

I would have loved to have snapped a photo of the bucket-headed cow — but I was trying to preserve life and limb. Once again, Chance was streaking across a field. And this time, we had no anchor to slow us down.

Rush Hour

One afternoon last week, while prepping for Christmas, I happened to catch rush hour leaping, running and slinking by.

can always tell when the deer hunter’s are down by the river. don’t need to see their trucks in the parking lot. don’t even need to hear gun shots. their presence flushes up our way. Suddently there’s 30 deer in the nighbors alfala fiel. they usually rest there and mill around before continuing their pilrimage away rm the wood. on this partiuarl day.While prepping for Christmas, a few days before, I happened to catch rush hour from the picture window by my desk.

Roast or Freeze

Late last night before collapsing in bed, I detour to the kids’ room to check them. And it’s a good thing. I crack the door releasing a billowing cloud of damp, hot air. I step into a dark tropical rainforest. All that’s missing is the sound of birds and night life.

A humidifier — Martin’s most recent Bed, Bath and Beyond acquisition — is whirling away. It’s teamed up with the space heater that’s so hot, it curls plaster, the room is cooking. It’s close to 88 degrees. In their sleep, the kid wear a sweaty sheen.

Welcome to another ide on the seasonal ride on the heating roller coaster. Roast or freeze. Take your pick.

I grew up in a suburban split-level rancher and never gave heating or cooling the slightest thought except when Dad shouted, “Shut that door, we’re not air conditioning the outdoors!” I didn’t know where it came from. Heating and central AC shared a ghostlike existence and each room was equally temperate, magically and silently warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Those metal, louvered registers in each room? I knew that if I pasted my ear up against them, I could hear my parents’ conversation in the kitchen.

Around here, heating and cooling are much more conspicuous. As I write this, the furnace growls awake and our old pine floor boards tremble. Everyone here is keenly aware of the heat. You can’t miss the gurgling of water that makes the radiators sound like they ate something that didn’t agree with them. And that sharp snake-like hiss of steam. In the depth of winter the furnace awakens a few hours before sunrise, the pipes emitting a steady clank. When it sounds like someone’s striking the pipes with a wrench, I know I’ve got an hour of sleep to go. It’s the alarm clock before the alarm clock.

The kids don’t wax poetic about the heat, but they appreciate it. The first place isn’t for ambiance. When it crackles to life everyone relocates their toys, their lap tops and camps out in “the fireplace room.” And when the winter wind pulls at the house, I’ve seen Brynn standing by the radiator, cooking her hands over the pipes.

I’d like to say that with awareness comes appreciation. But the kids don’t value the radiators — or the a/c window units — any more than I did, simply because they are louder. The bottom line is that kids are actually pretty adaptable. They can sweat in the summer and freeze in the winter, and frankly, they don’t care.