LIFE GOES ON OUT IN THE COUNTRY – A PHOTO A WEEK CHALLENGE

HOME IN THE COUNTRY: A PHOTO A WEEK CHALLENGE, NANCY MERRILL


Last night, we met up with Garry’s brother Anton who was in the area on a work project. “In the area” was actually “in the state of Massachusetts.” If you tried to pick a location as far as possible from where we live … and still be in the same state (Massachusetts is small), you might just select Beverly. An 85 mile drive through Boston rush hour traffic found us on Cape Ann, with the Atlantic Ocean on one side and manicured lawns and huge, restored houses on the other.

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The gated mansions  … some with actual gate houses … were a bit of clue that we had entered a different world.

Around our neck of the woods, when you see a gate, it’s there to keep something in or something else out. Cows in, coyotes out. Dogs in the yard, delivery people out. Chickens in, foxes out. Also, wild turkeys … outside, please.

(Those wild turkey want to be in with the chickens because the food is better. They do not call them turkeys for nothing.)

I commented that a “gated mansion” in our area is called a “farm with a big house.” A glorious rolling stretch of grass that leads to the river is called “a pasture” and usually contains cows, horses, the occasional llama, and less frequently, goats. Sometimes all of the above and maybe a visiting few deer who don’t mind sharing as long as no one shoots at them.

Mostly, we have cows and horses. Really big horses. Percheron and Clydesdale, the size of 10-ton trucks, but friendlier and certainly more fun to have around.

FORBIDDEN? NAH. POSSIBLY INADVISABLE

By the time you  can say “Don’t forget my Senior Discount” without missing a beat, pausing for breath, or feeling the least bit embarrassed — there’s nothing forbidden left. You’ve either got no interest in it — if you ever did — or you’re sure it would kill you. Life remains more a priority than doing something dangerous. For fun. Or whatever.

This is a little bit like one of those “bucket list” questions. I don’t have a bucket list. I never did. In the course of life, if I wanted to do something and I could find a way of doing it, I did it. Sometimes it worked out well. Sometimes, not so great. These days, there are things I ponder.

I’d like to go to Paris, but that would mean flying. I hate flying. I hated flying years ago when it wasn’t so bad, but I hate it more now. It would also mean packing, planning, and financing the journey.

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Assuming we could come up with the money — you can always come up with money, but sometimes the cost exceeds the value of the thing — and I could figure out what shoes to bring (don’t laugh … uncomfortable shoes can ruin a vacation) — am I really up for long days of hiking through cobblestone streets and museums? I get tired quickly these days … as does Garry. Exactly how much of it would we do before it became work rather than play?

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And what about the dogs? They’d totally freak out if we were away for weeks at a time. That’s probably why so many of our fellow seniors have stopped having dogs and other pets. We’d rather keep the pets and give up the traveling. It’s a choice. We all need to know what really matters most in our world.

And then … there’s the advisability factor. Right now, I’m on a short run of Prednisone. Which means I don’t itch. My back almost doesn’t hurt, and I have a frantic bubbling energy suggestive of revived youth. Beneath the chemical boost, I feel my breastbone grinding as I move. In a few days, I’ll be off the Prednisone and the energy will ebb. I’ll be back to limping along, grateful to be on my own feet, not in a chair with wheels.

Nothing is forbidden. I could take crazy drugs. I won’t, because I’m pretty sure I’d be happy for 15 minutes followed by dead for much longer. Inadvisable.

What else might be forbidden? Unsafe sex? Really? Is that a thing?

Bungee jumping? Deep sea diving? Taking a go at swimming the English Channel?

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I miss horses. Maybe I could learn to drive a rig? They have some really nice ones up the road at Ironstone Farm. Hitch me up a team of four Clydesdale horses. Then me and Garry — and a lot of leather in hand — could take to the roads. Okay, that might work!

FORBIDDEN | THE DAILY POST

THE IRON COWBOY – GARRY ARMSTRONG

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While Marilyn was deep into her favorite sport — shopping — I discovered the iron cowboy. There he was, sitting on the fence.

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Watering his horse. Wizened from the sun, dusty from the desert. Stolid against the perils of the trail, impervious to thirst and heat.

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The rain was closing in and sunset was near. Time to hit the long and dusty trail.

IF WISHES WERE HORSES

“If wishes were horses, then beggars would ride … ” – Old Proverb

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I do not know what a wish looks like, though I think it might look like a rising sun over a glassy harbor. Beggar that I am, I wish for a horse to ride and one more.

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Gentle, well-school mounts so Garry and I can ride together again. And, I wish all of us the best life can give us — many sunrises on the shores of bright summer days.

THE BLACK STALLION

 

If I’m going to be in a movie, I say — bring on the horses!

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.

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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.

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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 week, Turner Classic Movies showed “The Black Stallion.” So, of course, we watched it again. I’ve seen it many times. Each is seeing it for the first time.

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.

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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.

“The Black Stallion” is a paean to horses, nature, and overcoming adversity. You don’t have to be a kid to love it. It also contains the least dialogue of any movie since the talkies took over Hollywood.

Director Carroll Ballard tells the story with luscious cinematography and a lovely soundtrack. Music fusing with images that wrench your heart.