I fear our local livestock is not the least bit exotic. This is dairy country. Horse breeding country. Chicken raising country. If there’s anything less exotic, I can’t think of it off-hand.
Fourth Wall – You get to spend a day inside your favorite movie. Tell us which one it is — and what happens to you while you’re there.
NO ANIMAL IS HARMED OR HURT. NOTHING BAD HAPPENS TO ANY ANIMAL DURING THIS MOVIE (OR IN ANY OF THE BOOKS, EITHER). IT’S ALL GOOD, ALL HAPPY ENDINGS. PHEW!
I grew up yearning for a horse and devoured any book about them. My favorites books were the Walter Farley’s Black Stallion series. I probably read the book so many times its cover fell apart.
All through my childhood, Walter Farley wrote a steady stream of new Black Stallion books – and I read every one of them. About his colts and fillies. About Alec Ramsey, who grew from a teenage boy to a man in the course of the series. Of Henry Daily, the old horse trainer whose career is revived by his accidental encounter with Alec and The Black. Many stories, as the years went on, were about the racing stable Alex and Henry build in upstate New York for which The Black was the founding stud. To this day, I know more about horses and horse racing than most people … because Walter Farley told me all about it in book after book.
Throughout my young years, I wished they would make The Black Stallion into a movie. I wanted to see The Black, to see Alec ride him. To see him come from behind and become the greatest horse to ever run on a track. I was bewitched by horses and was convinced I would need nothing else in this life if I had a horse.
Oddly, the great Secretariat’s real accomplishments — winning the Triple Crown in 1973 — remarkably mirrored those of the fictional Black. Watching Secretariat’s career — in the real world — made up for never having seen The Black race.
I never got a horse. Gradually real life overtook my fantasy life. College, work, husband, baby, home, friends replaced dreams of riding bareback on the greatest stallion of them all.
But the magic wasn’t over me because in 1979, Francis Ford Coppola made the movie I’d yearned for since childhood. He based the movie, The Black Stallion, on the first of Walter Farley’s Black Stallion books, the one he wrote in 1941. In making the movie, they changed the story some. This would have made me crazy as a kid, but by the time I saw the movie — in an old theater in Jerusalem, Israel — I was a 30-year-old mother living overseas and able to cope with relatively minor digressions from the original tale.
Last night, Turner Classic Movies showed The Black Stallion. Again. I’ve seen it before, obviously. Many times. Every time I see it, it is seeing it for the first time as I am swept away to a desert island for the adventure of a lifetime. Even if you aren’t a great horse lover, the score and the cinematography are so extraordinary, the movie is like a dream. They set the story in its original time period, the early 1940s which helps augment the dreamlike effect.
I want to be on that island with The Black. To ride him along the edge of the ocean, free from everything but the sun, the wind, the sand beneath my horse’s pounding hoofs. I would give a lot for just one day to live that dream.
As a movie, The Black Stallion is stunning. It’s a paean to horses, nature, and overcoming adversity. You don’t have to be a kid. It also contains the least dialogue of any movie since the talkies took over Hollywood. Director Carroll Ballard tells the story with luscious cinematography combined with a breathtaking soundtrack … music fusing with images to wrench your heart.
If you love animals and especially horses, this is a movie you must see. If you have seen it, see it again. Let it sweep you away to that island and a world out of time.
Do you believe in ghosts?
I don’t know. Probably not exactly ghosts, but something weird.
Regardless of your physical fitness, coördination or agility: If you could play any sport professionally what would it be? Or if you can’t picture yourself playing sports, what is your favorite sport?
I used to ride horses. If my back weren’t so broken, I still would. I always loved horse from when I was very young, so if I were to pursue anything, it would definitely be from the back of a horse.
Do you prefer long hair or short hair for yourself?
I love the way short hair looks, but I hate the bother of taking care of it. So I wear it long. A pony tail is easy peasy and Garry likes it too. He sees me younger than I am. But that’s okay. It’s mutual.
If you were on a small island, who would you want to be with? And where is it? How big is it?
Martha’s Vineyard, thanks. Garry and me, back on the island we love. In that little house we used to rent in Oak Bluffs, overlooking Nantucket Sound. Would be nice if we had a few dollars to spend, too … but just to be there again would be wonderful. We used to be there every summer. Funny how quickly time passes.
Bonus question: What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?
I am grateful for Amazon.com and Audible.com. Since this is a whole other story, I will write it. Soon.
Instant Celebrity - If you could be
a famous person for a day, who what would you be? Why?
I would choose to be Silver, the Lone Ranger’s horse. Strong, powerful, beautiful. Galloping free on the range, the wind in my mane, my snow-white tail streaming out behind me. Leaping fences, rearing high on my powerful legs declaring myself the king horses.
I might deign to carry one special man — my Ranger — when he rides out to rid the west of the bad guys and make the world a better, safer place. But when the saddle comes off, I will be free again.
I will live off green grasses under blue skies. The wind and running streams will be my friends. No beeping, dinging, or buzzing.
No chores to do, schedules to meet, or bills to pay. I will live my life under the sky with no pain or shame of the past — nor fear of the future.
When my life is over, let me rejoin the earth, My Mother.
The Blackstone Valley has always been a farming community. Although it was the birthplace of the American Industrial Revolution, the farms have always been here too. People, after all, need to eat and where the ground is fertile and apple orchards thrive, families will farm.
Summer has come, right on time. It usually shows up just around Memorial Day and that will be here this weekend. The cows are serene. The chickens and horses are content and peaceful. The corn is coming up green and it looks like a good crop is on the way. Soon we’ll have fresh local produce and our air will be full of the scent of things growing from the earth.