When the pollen count went down below five on the official index, I went outside (ah, the sweetgreen smells of summer!) to visit some riding schools. I had my shoulderbag stuffed with hardcopy editions of my pretty good book “Sam (a pastoral),” bookmarks and flyers with their fullcolor photos and qr’s tempting people to buy this wonderful creation on the spot. Up went several flyers on each tackroom bulletin boards, into the barn lounges went complimentary copies…”What’s that book about?” said several young riders, “Can I see it? Can I read it? Can I buy it on my phone?” Who says kids don’t read? I love the younger generation. I love my niche.
Hardcopy versions of “Sam” are on sale at the Stone’s Throw Tack Shop, 416 Boston Post Road East, in Marlboro, MA. E-book readers can get in from Amazon, where it is good and cheap.
Full disclosure, although there is a large chestnut equine person on the cover, this book is not strictly about horses. It’s about bonding, or join-up, as horseyfolks would say. It’s also about working out that life isn’t fair, not for anybody, and you have forgive life for treating you rotten. There is only so long you can chew horseshoe nails and think about how to get even. We are talking about grace, love and forgiveness. Life forgives you, doesn’t it?
Nevertheless, we would do well to see animals as persons. Because they are. While they do not possess human symbolic language systems, they are eloquent in expressing themselves. They have rich emotional and sensory lives; and to regard their personhood with love and respect is a holy thing to do. I think also that regarding humans in their full personhood– reading each others’ rich gestural and emotional languages– is central to our humanity. Perhaps doing so would lesson the number of truly horrible things we do to one another. I will only mention war, trafficking and the denial of dignity to the poor and helpless.
This is not strictly a horse, nor is it a bicycle, but that ride cleared my head just fine.
“As a Kid I Spent Summers on a Farm.” These words yank so many of us back to That Place, and Those Endless Days of sunstruck pastures, dim-lit barns, blackberry buckets, velvety-black nights lit by stars and fireflies. Your parents were around, somewhere, and not paying very close attention to what you were up to. You were out messing around on your own or with the kid from the next farm over, who knew mysterious things, like which mushrooms you could eat, and how to catch trout with your hands, and who used to live in that creepy deserted house back in the woods. I wrote about these things and about my Farm in the Country in “Sam (a pastoral),” but– full disclosure– I was not a kid when I spent summers there. I was an adult with a college degree. I had however, spent childhood dreaming of, and yearning for, such a place: an old-fashioned farmstead tucked away back in a wild hollow, with a barn for my pony. When my family lucked into this beautiful piece of property, I did what any sane person would do. I regressed almost instantly, and proceeded to have my childhood adventures in the fields and mountains. I acquired the pony– actually a doublewide monster of a horse with a heart of gold and a mad urge to go any-and-everywhere at the fastest gait I would permit. I made fast friendships with my neighbors. I contemplated the woods, the stars, the deer, the birds, the skunks, foxes and fishers, with the eyes of a child. My reversion to childhood has proven to be good training. Today when I see a lovesome little farm, or an animal wild or domestic, I am ten years old again, and my old heart swells with delight and love. You could call this Acquired Nostalgia, maybe.
Let me share my wisdom, gained through long years of struggle, with all you young writers out there!
Tip#1. Don’t do it unless you absolutely have to. If you must, put zombies in it.
Tip#2. Do not write while riding a horse. Ditto a bicycle.
Tip # 3Do not write while asleep.
Tip#4. If you can’t think of a plot turn, call the vet. Colic is always popular.
Tip#5. Seriously now, if you are stuck with your story, clear your head with deep meditation. Or go riding on a horse. Ditto a bicycle.
Tip#6. Don’t take anybody’s advice.
Living in the northeast and having spring allergies is awful. But I’ve arranged my window views for maximum fun. My office looks out on the veggie garden and the bird feeder, where the recently-fledged babies are learning to land without wiping out. Cardinals, a flock of young housefinches, and (unfortunately) a rowdy gang of grackles, a plague of doves and a cute young red-bellied woodpecker who hasn’t figured out how to extract seeds from the feeder yet. A flicker pokes between patio bricks for ants, and a robin works the lawn. The other benefits of being a prisoner of Zenda is the work I’m getting done on my theatrical murder mystery. Not to mention cleaning the fridge and editing my ridiculous book collection.
Bluebells make spring better for a shut-in hay-fever victim. They’ve taken to growing in the veggie garden.