This little story was inspired by my conversations with Linda Tellington-Jones, when I wrote an article for Natural Horse Magazine. .
Her only thought as she ran through the tall, wet grass was how huge her world now seemed. Holding her faded blue gingham dress high in one hand, a pinwheel spinning madly in the other, galloping as fast as her eight year old legs could manage she ran until breathless. Then collapsed in the soggy sea of green. The wet grass stung her bare feet with a thousand tiny daggers of cold. But her mind raced on with hundreds of imaginary things a girl could do with all the space of a wide open world.
Only a week before her life had been confined to the world of city life where the only green was in patches called yards.
The only trees struggled to reach for the sun between buildings. The only animals were dogs on leashes and cats behind windows. Until this moment she hadn’t even realized how wrong that was for her. Somehow though her father knew. He always seemed to know the really important things.
The evening her mother and father announced they would be moving to a farm in the country, near a town called Sunnyvale, Patty was confused. She wasn’t at all convinced country life was for her. Oh sure the family had driven through the country all the time, their hometown of Edgewood. After all it was not a huge city and to get anywhere from anywhere you had to drive through the country. But that’s just exactly what the country had seemed to be. Something you drove through to get where you were going. Not a place to call home.
The family hadn’t talked too much about the move. At least not that Patty remembered. But the drives to the country to what turned out to be their new home, had begun to give Patty a different feeling.
She was not able to understand why each time they returned to their house in Edgewood, from the farm they did not yet call home, she felt more and more as if they were visiting the city house, and leaving behind their real house in the country.
She also began to notice more things in the country. Big fields of corn, and grass, magnificent trees, cows, sheep and horses. She decided almost immediately that horses were the most beautiful thing in the world.
Lying on her back in the cold wet grass on top of the hill, she held her pinwheel high into the breeze. Her brand new girlfriend Elizabeth had given her the pinwheel as a welcome present on her first day to the new school. Silver with red stripes, it looked like a whirling flower of sparkling red when it spun round and round.
The school was a long walk from home. Over two miles along a dirt road and a path around a big lake that had a lot of ducks on it. Her father had told her to be careful of the snapping turtles, when he and mother walked her to school the first day. But each day she looked and never saw one. The school sat just off the lake and the boys were allowed to fish at recess on Fridays.
She decided she liked her new school. Everybody was in the same room from her own first grade class all the way up to grade twelve. Sixteen of them all together in one room and Mrs. Brown, the teacher, too. Mrs. Brown’s big old desk sat directly in front of the blackboard. It was the biggest desk Patty had ever seen.
There was a small woodstove along the one wall near the big window. It was the older boys’ job to keep the woodbox full. The first graders had to clap the erasers and sweep the front porch each day. The other children each had jobs too. Everyone was expected to have their chores complete by the time Mrs. Brown rang the bell at 8:05 each morning.
Today was Saturday and there would be no school for two days. Two days to explore the farm, after their chores of course. The chores! She could hear her father in the big barn with the hogs.
It must be near dinner time if father was feeding the hogs. She had a big plan about tonight’s dinner so she had better be on time. Her legs flew through the wet grass. Her pinwheel whistled in the air, but she was able to dash into the barnyard before her father was finished.
“That’s some mighty fine running, Patty,” he greeted her at the gate with a smile and an outstretched hand holding three brown eggs.
“I’ll carry them father,” Patty tucked the pinwheel under her arm, and held out both hands. “Where did you find them? On the seat of that old wagon again?”
“Same place as yesterday. Must be more than one hen laying in that nest.” Carefully he laid the eggs in her hands, picked up his buckets and side by side they walked the winding dirt path to the house.
Patty waited for just the right time at dinner to ask her question. The big question she’d been hanging onto all day. The big question that made her lose track of time. Seemed like a great time now that father had finished telling them he’d heard from the neighbor that the price of hogs should be real good in another month.
So, she smiled at mother, sister and then father. She left her gaze settle on his kind, unsuspecting eyes.
“Father, I love our new school and my teacher, Mrs. Brown. And of course all the children. Even the old ones, the ones in the big grades. Did you know most of the children have horses and ponies to ride to school? And you know what?”
Her father swallowed and made a show of paying attention to only her, “What’s that?”
“Well, it’s just that some of them even live closer to the school house than we do, and they have ponies or horses.” She studied his face and caught him give a sly wink to mother and her sister.
“You don’t say.” He folded his hands and winked again at mother.
Patty felt her heart race. “Yes, and Timothy said his father has a horse named Sunshine that no one is riding and we could get her really, really cheap.”
Hope you enjoyed this sweet story …. Have a wonderful day, and thank you for being friends! ~ Gitty Up, Dutch.