Carol A. Hand
One of initial purposes for Voices from the Margins was to create a space for guest authors who wanted to share their stories. This is the second installment of what I hope will continue as an ongoing series of posts from a guest author. For now, she prefers to use the pen name, Sara. (See her first story here.)
Happy Summer Days – January 31
I have happy memories of waking up on a summer morning – rushing through my morning chores, eating a big bowl of oatmeal for breakfast, then running out the door to call my horse.
I named my horse Calypso!! Calypso was about 6 months old when he came into my life…a beautiful reddish brown quarter horse colt. For quite a few years, my dad bought and sold horses. He would come home with a livestock truck full of horses…back it up to the spot where he unloaded and I would run from wherever I was to help him. Each horse that came off that truck was looked over by me and usually I wouldn’t say much other than, “ Hmm, good looking gelding, nice color on that mare, that one looks a little skittish, …”. Then came the day. We had already off loaded three or four horses when here came this beautiful colt. His head was up, eyes shiny and alert and he was prancing, and I fell in love. The first words out of my mouth were, “There, that’s the one. He’s mine!!!” My dad looked at me and started to laugh. He said, “All these years, all these horses, why did you pick this one?”
Photo Credit: Quarter Horse Running Free
So, I told him. “He’s the right age so I can train him from the ground up. His color is beautiful, he’s is a quarter horse, and he’s the one I want!” Dad looked at me and said, “It will be a long time before he’s ready to ride.” I told Dad I could be patient because there were many other horses I could ride in the meantime. It was a proud moment for him as he handed me the lead rope and said, “Ok, if you’re sure. Take him, take good care of him, he’s yours.” Dad just kept chuckling to himself and mumbling about the hundreds of horses that I had looked over before I chose that one! He told me he thought I would Never pick one and was just waiting. I told him that I was just waiting too.
I remember my summer mornings with Calypso. On with the bridle, on with the saddle and off we go! Depending on the mood there were times I would leave at a full gallop and at other times just an easy trot down the long driveway and off to see what I could see. Riding my horse was my therapy! Sometimes we would go exploring or off to a neighboring farm to see if my friend wanted to grab a horse and come riding with me. Most often, though, I rode alone. It was so peaceful and I ambled along just looking at everything!
I got into trouble one weekend for riding into the next town over and romping up the long flight of steps to the front door of the Catholic church and down again. It was lots of fun so I did it a couple of times before being satisfied and heading for home. About a week later I was riding down the highway heading for no particular spot when I was pulled over by a car driven by a Sheriff’s deputy. He said that he had reason to believe it was ME who had trotted up and down the church steps last week and that I was NOT to do it again or I would be in trouble. “How do you know it was me?” I asked. He said suspected it was me because my horse had dug up the pavement all the way into town and back. That was another thing we discussed!!! I was NOT to ride on the tar on hot days…gad, what next! I said “Alright, I will try to remember.” And for the most part I did. I just rode on gravel roads which wasn’t hard to do since there was only one paved road at the time (no wonder they got all excited about hoof prints!).
When I first started training my horse, I thought it would be really great if I could teach him to take me the half mile out to the mailbox. It’s where I caught the school bus. I thought I could ride him out and then turn him loose and send him home. So one summer day, I rode out to the mailbox, got off the horse, headed him back toward home and said GO. He stood there, head down, waiting for me to get back on and leave. I rode back home, and then back again to the mailbox with another idea about how to make it work. And so it went, over and over, with NO cooperation on his part! On my last trip of the day we rode out to the mailbox, I got off the horse, looped the reins over the saddle horn and told him to go home. All these years later, I still laugh remembering how he turned back and looked at me just as these BIG drops of rain starting falling and he hauled ass for home with me running behind him hollering – Stop! Stop! Stop!
(Sawyer Brown – The Dirt Road)
Hog Butchering Day – January 31
The day would begin in its usual way. However, by midafternoon, the activity would pick up its pace. Mom would build a fire in the area near the butchering site. The placement of things was quite important. There needed to be a tree with a branch that would support the weight of the animal as it hung there while innards were removed and hide scraped off. The fire was for the huge cast iron kettle filled with water and brought to a boil. This was used for scalding (the dead) animal so the hair could be removed from the hide. So while the men were taking care of that chore, Mom and I would be feeding our livestock and milking the cows. Then we would rush up to the house to get ready for cutting up the meat and making a meal for all of the neighbors who were taking part.
Most often it was just 2 families and each one would butcher a hog. After the meat was cut up (which took a couple of hours) the next step was grinding up certain chunks of meat, mixing it with various spices and stuffing it into washed and cleaned hog intestines. In the meantime the younger kids were stashed here and there so they could get some sleep, the older kids were playing games and running about making all kinds of noise, and sometimes – depending on the neighbors – there would be music. One family that we shared this chore with would bring a guitar and harmonica and a couple of the girls would sing – their voices were amazing! Things would wind up as the sun was coming up and the women would fry some of the new, fresh sausage and some potatoes and eggs. After breakfast and a cleanup of the work area, it was over for another year.
It was a lot of hard work but we had fun, too and I remember how tired we were after working so hard for so long and getting no sleep until morning chores were done!!
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