Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Horses in West Virginia

Dear AnneGG,

Remember our first horse, Sugarfoot. He wasn’t truly ours, but we owned him with our hearts and sense of adventure. You and Carrie and Stevie owned him the way three, then four (Diane), small children own anything, carelessly and carefully. You owned him carelessly in the abandon of your pleasure with doses of dirt and energy and daily questing. You owned him carefully with the intensity of the first experience of holding the life and welfare of another being in your own sphere of responsibility.

Remember your great fall. The icy ride and the buck, the toss, and tumble has, I fear, ruined your love of riding forever. I regret that, especially now that I find such moment in my time on horses.

Your father tells the story, proudly, (you have heard this many times) of the dark winter evening when we sat at the dinner table with your grandparents in that ample kitchen of an otherwise very small house on ten acres in the coal hills of West Virginia. We loved that place, with its magical evergreen forest where you played on piles of fallen red needles, it’s giant rock where you occasionally camped out, and it’s grand canyon carved by some miscreant coal company that cut but never reclaimed, leaving for us a wondrous geologic playground, complete with a mine portal and exquisite danger. You were such a little person that night at the dinner table and the night was so dark and the air was so cold, but it was your turn, so when your father said, “Did anyone feed Sugarfoot?” you wordlessly rose and went for your coat. Grandma was horrified. How could we let this tiny child brave the elements to feed and water a horse all by herself?

And that perhaps is still a good question. How could we do that? Why? Did you wonder? Well, here are some reasons. I was very pregnant with your sister Diane. I remember days during that pregnancy when I was forced to stretch the hose to the furthest length and fill 5 gallons buckets, half full each, and carry them the rest of the distance to the horse. I did it slowly, step by step and with some weariness, like a scene out of “Little House on the Prairie.” But your father was injured. His back was “blown,” and that injury had blown some of his other psychological cover, too (another story for another day). So it was up to you children. And you were brave and helpful. Did you know? And a lot of it fell to you and Carrie because you were oldest. You can see from the picture what oldest means!

Thank you my dear AnneGG for the character you displayed then and that you have carried with you far beyond your loss of love for the equine.

Love, always,


Tags: Horses Family


Anne G G said...

This is one of my favorite pictures from childhood, maybe because I look so brave on the back of that enormous horse, and i've hardly ever felt brave on horseback since. . .

It's hard to remember one's parents as having ever been weak, though it doesn't seem hard to imagine now.

I wonder if we'll ever have anything as magical as that property in WV again. . . though maybe that's what you find with your horses. all my love.

brd said...

Yes that WV life was pretty magical. If we could go back . . . would we? There was certainly lots of love there in very special ways and through very special people.

Conversely said...

I'm not sure that it was WV that was magical about you guys. My guess is that it's all of you in your incredible family.

brd said...

As they would say in WV, "Ah shucks."

HorsesAreFriends said...

Hi, everyone.

Three foreign-owned horse slaughter plants here in the USA are killing American horses. They kill the horses, harvest the meat, and then ship it overseas. Me and some friends are asking people to send an email to their senators asking them to push this bill through and vote to end horse slaughtering.

Go to http://www.congress.org/congressorg/home/ and type in your zip code. Send an email to both of your US senators and tell them to stop horse slaughtering. The vote is coming before the Senate in early October so please do it NOW! :-) Thanks!!!

And here is a blog that we set up so you can read more information about it: