Thursday, October 21, 2010

Sweet Dreams


Between the ages of 5 and 7, I never hiked without a length of rope. I clipped it to my belt. When I finally found my horse, my wild horse of the Sierra Nevada’s, I would use the rope to make a bridle and guide him home. Always be ready to meet your dream.

The night before every hike, I worked on a strategy. Maybe something from the car could make a saddle, otherwise I’d just go bareback. My horse and I would probably take the road beside the freeway, and if my horse was scared, I’d whisper sweet nothings in his ear, something to do with speed and love.

I hoped my dad would drive alongside, because we’d need the headlights, it would be dark. And my dad was pretty encouraging anyway; by now he was in the habit of clipping his Swiss Army Knife to my belt, a handy tool in case I had to cut the rope to fit. Wish the big wishes, he told me, but have a plan.

My plan never stretched to feeding and accommodations, because I think you'll agree I had something a little more important to consider: My horse's name. And after much thought, I had one, a name so beautiful, I couldn’t believe I was the first person to ever put these two words together: King Emerald.

When I read about Zenyatta, I’m maybe five or seven. Even sports writers who are not given to hyperbole (an exclusive club and I can only think of one), dissolve into similes and metaphors, and whisper sweet nothings, something to do with speed and love. She’s a mare who dances on her toes to the starting gate, relaxes down the backstretch, and pours it on for the finish. She may be the best horse who ever raced.

(I have a new small piece on Patch. I hope you’ll visit, not because of the piece itself, but to see a beautiful 3 year old cat who lives at the Humane Society and needs a home. Maybe your home is full already, but you might meet someone, this week or next, who has a dream that includes this cat. It’s good to be prepared; you never know who you’ll run into.)

PS -- This is not my photo, but I couldn't find an attribution.

53 comments:

  1. "Wish the big wishes, he told me, but have a plan"--did your dad really say that? Wow. You could be another Gatsby.

    That's a sweet narrative.

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  2. Did I hear someone mention Gatsby?

    King Emerald. So lovely.

    And so is your piece on beautiful Angelica over at Patch. I can already tell your pet column is going to break my heart. Over and over. And over.

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  3. King Emerald indeed! I had an imaginary one called Black Cloud. The difference is, I would not have thought of Black Cloud without your prompting. How you remember the small details of childhood amazes me.

    (Who is the one sports writer?)

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  4. Oh we are alike in some ways but this is where we part ways sweet friend. I never dreamed of a horse. In fact the one and only year I went to GIrl Scout camp at about age eight, I passed on horseback riding.......fear. I also attempted to sit on the side of the pool shivering with chattering teeth but they didn't buy that one. Instead they spent two whole weeks teaching me the "Dead Man's Float".

    Sometimes even today I feel that eight year old fear creep in when I strike out on a new adventure. I"m in the middle of it right now. Wish me bon chance.
    V

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  5. that cat could take your arms off! Cute though..

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  6. Well, your dream came true in the end. Did you have a rope to corral your present sweet horse? She's not called King Emerald, so how did you come by her name?

    I will try my best to find someone for Angelica, but everyone I know who likes cats is all kittied up, it seems. Black animals always go last because people choose the ones with pretty colors.

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  7. I love this post. Dream the big dream, indeed. The best name I could come up with for my first pet, a canary, was Dandy. Because he was...dandy. duh!

    I'm heading over to see about a cat. I already know I'm going to want to take her home. I always do. I should just move into the SPCA and get it over with. That said, I think I have enough cat to handle right now, as it is. Shhhh....I think she's sleeping...

    Blessings,
    Carolynn

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  8. A rope and a knife; I love this piece.

    wv: purin

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  9. The timing is perfect ~ it's Spring Racing Carnival here now. King Emerald is truly a fine name. Heading over to Patch now, not that I can help. I hope someone can...

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  10. One question. You have a horse, not named King Emerald. Did you ever have a horse, the kind you have to feed and care for, named King Emerald?

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  11. Always take a long a rope and a knife... Good ideal, but at this stage in life, that might make some people nervous...

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  12. Imaginary horse? Not me, but I remember arguing with my pal Woody about who got to BE Roy Rogers when we grew up. Only one kid could BE Roy Rogers, and it would be one of us, and never mind that Woody was older--it was gonna be me.

    And that is why I never got math.

    Or physics: I remember giving in to the desire to search for Gene Autry in my grandmother's big ol' radio. That was his voice, for sure, so I'll look around in the back of the machine where all the gizmos are. Where the hell's Gene? How could they make him so little and hide him so well? And why?

    Do you suppose this is what shrinks mean by magical thinking?

    Or psychosis?

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  13. Roy Rogers was my first idol. Definitely. Followed later by Davy Crockett. I still get pissed that he was killed at that Alamo.

    WV: oblessin. An obsessive lesson.

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  14. No, never had a live King Emerald. That name seemed to go the way of my rope and knife.

    My horse was already named when I got her as a two year old. She's a registered appendix quarter, and her name is Vandy's Top Rocket.

    Banjo, in the radio? That's a pip. so is Virg's dead man's float.

    Laurie & Bellis, thanks for asking around. I think Earl needs a cat. I know Carolynn doesn't.

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  15. I might have to stop reading this because you write so beautifully and with such seeming effortlessness that it just makes me depressed, especially on gloomy days.

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  16. Wish I had known an imaginary horse. My first equine encounter was very real and very skittish. Thus quickly ended my love affair with horses. But I still think them beautiful animals, from a distance.

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  17. Banjo, neither. Just thinking like a kid.

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  18. My 9 year old imagination had a Brackus that never got caught but I did end up getting a Banjo when I was 12.

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  19. But Linda, not our Banjo, right?

    Man, AH, I'd have been your best friend in a flash. Flame, meet King Emerald.

    We'd have a plan, no doubt. LOVELY, lovely piece. And no, we have dogs.

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  20. If you're gonna dream, dream big! Good thing your Dad helped you with the plans. Too bad King Emerald never appeared.

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  21. I always dreamed of having a horse one day when I was a child. That is one dream I outgrew.

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  22. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bnfRq69nKEA

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  23. I've never heard of a guy dreaming of having a horse when he was a kid. Mr. Earl, you're a first. Girls dream of horses. Boys dream of tractors and trucks.

    If I'd had a horse I would have named it Dog Food. I'm not fond of horses. At one time they were a tremendous asset to mankind, but ever since the invention of the internal combustion engine, they are not much more than a big, dumb pet that eats a lot, costs a lot, smells a lot, and creates a lot of manure.

    I suspect this post will result in a lot of angry responses. Sorry ladies. But as always, Karin, your writing is brilliant and though provoking.

    WV: rentle - much better than owning, especially when it comes to horses.

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  24. I wish I had my Dad's knife now.

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  25. if it was a mare you could have called her Princess Sioux

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  26. This is a beautiful piece.

    Something about horses makes me melancholy. They're amazing creatures but I never dreamed of having one nor can I conceive of caring for one. A pit bull (and a couple of cats) is more than enough for me.

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  27. @DB I never dreamed of having a horse. I HAD an imaginary horse. Big difference.

    @Karin I probably do need a cat, but I think she'd wreak havoc with the model train layouts.

    Vandy's Top Rocket. I wonder if it had something to do with Vandenberg, where they shot off a lot of them? Have you seen Secretariat yet?

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  28. Margaret, I was glum today, too. And wondered why your dog piece was better than mine. And Susan is melancholy, too. It's so good we don't live in Seattle.

    Brackus, Flame, Black Cloud, Dandy, Princess Sioux. This cheers me.

    DB, you were obviously abused by a horse in childhood, so you've chosen to bury yourself under the hood of a (ok, I have to look this up) Bugatti.

    Earl, if you start with the @'s, then I'm going to beg questions.

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  29. Hey, I can still do it, well when I put on a bathing suit ... which is NEVER! I was good though, really good once I quit sinking to the bottom like a rock.

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  30. So many of your pieces make me want to write my own piece on the same subject, but then I can't because I'd be copying, dammit. But remind me to tell you of the herd of imaginary horses I shared with my best friend, Pazz. We knew all their names and we ruled the neighborhood.

    We both also owned real horses. I got my first when I was eight. Her name was Pandora, which wasn't bad when you think I could have named her Horsie, which is an anagram of my WV, "hories."

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  31. great story! Always be prepared!
    When you mentioned Zenyatta, I didn't think of the horse, I thought about the album by the Police.

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  32. That Zenyatta is one big manly mare.

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  33. We were all gloomy this week. Weird.

    I think I'll go back and listen to Zenyatta Mondata. That was a great album. (Am I showing my middle age by calling it an album? What do they call them, CDs? But people don't buy CDs anymore, they just download, right?)

    Now I'm gloomy because I'm feeling out of it.

    I'm going to spend the day with my imaginary horse friend Sparkle. (Don't laugh. She's actually a unicorn.)

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  34. the BLM (Bureau of Land Management) Twin Peaks Wild Horse and Burro round up is here...for all those dreaming of owning a horse...now's your chance!!!!

    DB is right about one thing...most of us girls dreamed of owning horses when growing up!!! I wonder why that is??? With all those cool westerns when we were young, why weren't the boys all wanting to grow up to be cowboys???

    DB did ride a mule in Sequoia...a sight to behold!!! Maybe next spring or summer I'll get him on a horse up here...

    Hiker...you amaze me!!!

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  35. That poor old mule had to be retired after taking me up the mountain.

    The last time I rode a horse was over 20 years ago when my daughter turned 10. She wanted to go horseback riding with her girlfriends. They brought out a big, old, swayback nag for me to ride. The horse groaned when I climbed aboard and kept trying to go back to the barn while we were on the ride. The things fathers do for their daughters.

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  36. I always thought your horse Vandy was named for the Darcy Farrow song by John Denver. Young Vandamere? Whose love was true?

    I think of all horses, even the most practical kind, as mythic creatures. It helps explain why watching them come down the back stretch invariably makes me cry.

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  37. True story: My family took some out-of-town friends down to Stanford one day to show them around. As we were leaving, I remember asking my mom if cowboys ever go to Stanford.

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  38. Were you wearing a cowboy hat and a gun holster at the time, Mr E???

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  39. Hey, P, nobody owns a subject, else we'd have nothing to write about.

    DB, if all you know about riding and horses is from the back of a poor wind-broken string horse, then you've never ridden. Let's see if Chieftess can convert you.

    Of course Laurie would have a unicorn. I'm with you, Linda. The sight will never fail to take my breath away. (Vandy's mom was Bold Vegas Vandy, and her grandad was a famous racing quarter sire named Rocket Bar.)

    And Earl, I think we all want to see the photo of you as a gunslinger. I googled Davy Crockett and found this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QAVN_n0PljQ

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  40. Why, yes Karin, the Ballad of Davy Crockett probably wore out our record player. Thanks for the find. My sister and I have an expression, "Slock your tail." It came from our understanding of the lyric, "So I hear tell."

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  41. When I very young, before there was a real horse with a real name--far more exotic than I could conjure with my little mind--I had a dappled gray dream horse named Galaxy. Whenever I was in the car, I could picture myself on him, galloping over the hills.

    And then, there was Aya Niezcka, not dappled, not a he, but definitely a hill galloper; and she was very, very real, and none the worse for it.

    Thank you for reminding me how fun both gallops, real and imaginary, were.

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  42. Better not knock my unicorn. She'll get you with that horn.

    I agree about the home stretch. Lump in the throat every time.

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  43. Okay, just to show I'm not completely heartless, take a look at this video of Stacy Westfall winning a competition riding bearback in honor of her father who died 24 days before.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TKK7AXLOUNo

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  44. AH, you're so right. It's called inspiration, not copying, if you do it right. Besides, only steal from the best, right? So always be flattered to have that influence.

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  45. The video of Stacy Westfall got me!!! It definitely speaks to the relationship between the rider and the horse!!!

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  46. Thanks for that video, DB. It made me weep.

    I see in that video how well they know each other. I don't know why it's more common among young girls to fantasize about horses and it's hard to articulate, but it doesn't surprise me.

    In college I wrote a poem about a ride I once took on my second horse, Brandy. I had lost control of him and he was a fast horse. He went charging through a forested area; at first I was afraid he would try to rid himself of me but he was just running and he avoided tree branches, careful not to knock me off. I decided to go with it, let him be in charge, enjoy it.

    We went for as long as we could. We were limited by two things: the area we ran in didn't go on forever and Brandy was part Quarter Horse, which gave him plenty of power but not miles and miles of endurance. It was a hell of a ride.

    The poem took the reader along on the ride until a climactic moment when Brandy finally ran into the river and slowed down, letting me rein him in. It was a defining moment in our relationship, mine and Brandy's, and it gelled us as a team.

    My professor in that course insisted the poem was sexual. I hated the idiot for that. He couldn't see past his own, inadequate Freud to the poetry of the relationship between woman and horse.

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  47. At one point I could play "Ballad of Davy Crockett" on the piano. Oh and I had an unhealty fear of piano recitals too but that's a story for another day.

    Oh and had a crush on Hopalong Cassidy. How weird it that!!!

    LA is your unicorn PINK or pale purple? :)

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  48. Sparkle is white, with a pink mane. Her eyes are violet like Elizabeth Taylor's. She has a star shaped mark on her left flank. (It changes color depending on her mood.) Her horn is silver.

    And I've never confided this to anyone.

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  49. Petrea, I love your memory of the poem in college and your feelings at the response of the professor...back in those days, I think everything was supposedly had a sexual component!!! (Thank you Freud!!!) Sometimes a horse and a girl are simply a horse and a girl!!!

    Unless of course, it's Laurie's glorious Sparkle!!!

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  50. Sparkle is more than just a horse, and I'm beginning to wonder about Laurie. She may be more than she seems, and that's saying something.

    Thanks, Chieftess. I believe you could say the relationship is romantic, but that's a whole different thing.

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  51. Believe me, I know about horses, has owned close to twenty myself. Some of them won races, some didn’t. They all cost a lot of money. What’s left are an empty stable and ... some sweet memories.

    Wv: tomadoc ...funny.

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  52. Aw, DB, I always said you were a prince of a fellow. Thanks for sharing that.

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