Friday, May 24, 2019

When I Was Little. A Trivial Story For Friday.

When I was little, my grandmother owned a very ramshackle farm where she lived with one aunt and two uncles of mine.  The place was a haven for inquisitive children:  pastures, woods and hills for play, horses, cows and pigs to tend and pet,  and then those very interesting falling barns we were sternly told not to enter.

Which made them the most intriguing targets for me.  One barn was a tall building, built into the side of the hill so that it was three floors high on one side but only one floor high on the other side.  The top floor had been a large hen house at one time, but now stood empty.  I could see the little gates in the wall, high above the pigsty, for the chickens to come out and descend to the pigsty area.  Right below those gates, all closed with wooden shutters, were the chicken ladders:  Long pieces of wood with many short cross-pieces nailed to it so as to make a stairway for them.

And I so very much wanted to climb down those ladders!  That this was forbidden fruit made it so much juicier.

One day, after carefully scouting the area for any adults, I got into the old hen house.  It was a wonderful place, empty, silent, with dust floating in the air, visibly dancing where the gaps in the roof let the sunlight in.  I crossed the floor on tiptoes, in case the building collapsed, and managed to get to one of the tiny gates which I opened.

I was small then and fit into the gate opening with a little squeezing. It was the perfect perch, offering me quite distant views from a new angle, but even at that age I could see that the chicken ladder would not be safe for me to attempt.  So I just sat there for a while, enjoying the sun and the mild breeze and the beauty of summer.

My uncles' two horses were pastured in an area which could not be seen from the farmhouse or from the yard or from the road that led to the farm, but where I sat I could see the pasture and the horses.  They, however, did not see me.

As I sat there, watching them eat grass, one horse suddenly walked to the other horse, they put their heads together, as if having a conversation.  They then turned and moved, together, to the gate opening to the pasture, which was blocked by only one steel wire, stretched across the gap at their chest level.

They proceeded to bite through the steel wire, which allowed them to leave the pasture.  They sedately, side by side,  walked down the road away from the farm, turned right on the main road, and disappeared from my view.

This put me into a dilemma.  I knew that I had to tell some adult the horses had escaped, but doing that would reveal my rules violation.  I did the right thing, anyway, found one of my uncles and told him what I had seen.

He refused to believe me, because the pasture wasn't visible from most parts of the farm.

Only when a neighbor called him and told that the horses were in his cabbage patch, having a succulent dinner, did he rise to action.


I remember this incident so vividly, because even today the best explanation for what I saw is that the horses planned the escape and then carried their plan out, and that they did this because they thought they were not overlooked.  Other explanations are more likely, but I treasure that one.