Note to readers: I am annoyingly unmotivated to write today. I have several in-depth pieces started, but I find that I am simply not in the mood to research and write, so … I had this piece that I wrote a while back for a Saturday Surprise, but then I didn’t use it, as I thought it might not be very interesting. However, I decided to post this for my afternoon post, and hopefully by tomorrow my muse will return and I will be able to come up out of the rabbit hole and jump back into the fray!
When I first asked for ideas for my Saturday Surprise feature, one suggestion came from Erika over at Dorky Mom Doodles. She said she would like to see me write about some of the experiences in my life that have contributed to my being who I am today. Personally, I doubt that my life or experiences are all that interesting, but I thought I’d give it a shot.
During my eighth year, my parents bought a restaurant out in the country. My father had risen through the ranks in the food and beverage industry, had become director of food and beverage for a major hotel chain, and thought he would like to be his own boss. So, they purchased an old farmhouse that had been converted into a restaurant, but had been defunct for several years and would require much work to bring it back to a serviceable state. Every weekend, they toted me and my stack of books out there, stuck me in a back room, and they spent the weekend cleaning, sanding, painting, etc.
Mostly I was content with my books, but it was summer and I really wanted to be outside, so I took to sitting under a tree, reading and daydreaming. One day I thought I would go for a bit of a walk in the fields behind the restaurant. The day was warm, probably even hot, but 8-year-old kids are not bothered by heat. I walked a bit, then saw in the distance … a horse! I walked toward the horse, and as I got closer, I realized there was a girl with the horse. She was very old … all of 13, I would soon discover. Her name was Francis … I do not know or remember her last name, for last names are not important to little kids.
Francis had short, dark, curly hair and the friendliest smile I had ever seen. She told me that the horse’s name was Lady and asked if I would like a ride. Sure, but … where is her saddle. I was told that she wore no saddle because she was pregnant. “You do know what ‘pregnant’ is, don’t you?” I did, but I thought it only happened to humans, not animals. Remember here, I was only 8. So I asked if she was sure it was okay for me to ride Lady, given that she was pregnant and all. “Heck, you’re scrawny enough she won’t even know you’re there.” And so, with quite a bit of help from my new-found friend, I was eventually ensconced upon Lady’s back, and Francis took the reins and walked us to her farm, some distance away. Months later, after her foal was born, Lady would throw me and break my collarbone, but that day she was docile and I had a great ride.
I spent the rest of the afternoon hanging out with Francis and her family at their farm, was invited to stay for supper, which I did, and finally Francis’ father asked if I ought to be getting home. I really did not want to, but at the same time, I thought perhaps I should. So, I said my ‘good-byes’ and headed out. Only problem was, I didn’t know where I was and I didn’t know how to get back to where I needed to be. Now, I was always an independent kid, who figured things out – right or wrong, usually wrong – on her own, so I just started walking on down the road, and decided hitchhiking was probably the best idea. So, I stuck my thumb out and kept walking, not having the faintest idea if I was walking in the right direction or not, but … all roads lead to somewhere, right?
Now, in this, the 21st century, you are probably asking if my parents hadn’t already frantically called the cops and there was a county-wide search underway. But … this was the 1950s … and my parents were otherwise occupied and, as it happened, had not yet noticed my absence. The rest of the story is fairly mundane … Francis’ father asked her how I was getting home and where I belonged, to which she replied that I was hitchhiking and she did not know where I belonged. So, pretty soon, along came an old, dented pick-up truck with Francis and her father inside. They took me to the field where I had first met up with Francis and Lady, from whence I could see the lights of my parents’ restaurant-to-be. Apart from a sound thrashing once they realized I had been gone for some 8 hours or so, I was none the worse for the wear.
Throughout the summer, Francis and I became friends, meeting several times a week, and I became a fixture, with my parents’ knowledge and permission, at their farmhouse. Summer ended, my father’s restaurant failed after just a few weeks, and I never saw Francis again. But I can still see her in my mind.
Three things came from that adventure. I never hitchhiked again. I developed a life-long love of horses. And most importantly, it was my first connection with people who were genuinely good, treated others well and fairly, for no other reason than because they believed it was the right thing to do.
And now that I have bored you to tears with this bit of trivia from my past, I shall return you to your regularly scheduled programming. Have a great day and smile, okay?