Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Three-Year-Old

In the context of the equestrian world, the term “three-year-old” conjures up images of lightening-fast animals flying around an oval track, magnificent hats and minted drinks, “and down the stretch they come.”

In my own horse dad world, “three-year-old” calls back memories of stick-horse rodeos in the den, complete with flag-bearers, precision riders and Marshall Tucker’s “Long Hard Ride” blaring in the background.  Innocent.  Fun.  Cherished.  All on video, certain to surface at a rehearsal dinner someday. 

My thoughts are heavy now with word of another three-year-old.  A child I’ll never meet.  A girl on the other side of the world.  An innocent one who may or may not even know what a stick horse is. 

My guess is she only wanted to play.  Or eat, perhaps.  Or sleep.  Instead, she was trapped in the middle of combating forces.  And injured to the point of needing medical attention.  Stat! 

She was delivered into the capable hands of a compassionate surgeon who I know spared no measure of skill to help her heal.  He works on kids all the time – kids whose body armor saves their lives but whose lives will never be the same.  Rarely – never? – does he look down to see a three-year-old – a baby really – lying before him on the operating table.  This doctor was all business, I know he was.  I can imagine him wincing just briefly at the horror of it.  And quickly, silently praying for this child.  Praying, too, for his own children.  Then, his unparalleled training and gifts take over.  Sewing on faith, as he puts it.  All business.

She received the best possible care, this three-year-old.  I pray she knows what a stick horse is.  And I pray she will be back on hers soon.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Alternate Route

Artist Jim Franklin gained notoriety in the 1970s for his drawings promoting the legendary Austin, Texas, music venue Armadillo World Headquarters.  Franklin’s posters and handbills often featured the curious little armored critters in curiously disarming situations.

One of my favorite Franklin’s was titled “Alternate Route,” a pen-and-ink drawing set along an innocuous, two-lane byway.  It depicted a stream of armadillos leaping from one side of the road, arching high above it, and landing safely on the other side.  If you have ever paid attention to the regularity with which these creatures meet their demise on the asphalt ribbons that bisect their habitat, you can appreciate the hopeful theme of Franklin’s artistry.  (If you happen to be an armadillo, I would imagine the humble drawing takes on da Vinci-like significance.)

A variation on Franklin's autos-vs-armadillos  theme.
As my family would readily affirm, I have an affinity for the alternate route.  I’m given to traveling to a destination on one course and returning home a different, often more complex way.  While I don’t recommend the alternate route when pulling a horse trailer – the path of least resistance and widest traffic lanes is best suited for those occasions – I believe there is a lot to be said for veering off the beaten path at other times. 

Recently, instead of retracing a three-hour, straight-shot interstate trip, I decided to meander home on an alternate route.  More stop lights and more head-on traffic, to be sure.  But also a great deal more to experience in what has quickly blossomed into a verdant spring season.  The wildflowers were spectacular.  With the sun angling toward the horizon, colors and shadows made a marvelous display as horses grazed in rolling fields.  The pace and the peace were welcome companions. 

Next time you get the chance, give the alternate route a try.