The Summer of the Ponies · Summer 1979

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It was summer time and that only meant one thing for a child,the ranch in Idaho.A summer home so to speak,a gathering place for cousins and family,a place that a kid like me could be free.Amongst the rolling hills,creeks, and wheat lined roads, sits a little white farm house with a front porch that seemed to say "Welcome." Through the mud room stacked with boots and buck skinned gloves,was the the beautiful scent of tractor grease,and a feeling of a hard days work well done.In the tiny kitchen outside and just above the sink, a red hummingbird feeder hung from a rusty nail in the large window, if you were lucky enough to get to do the dishes the old fashioned way, you might be lucky enough to watch the Hummingbirds flutter their wings 80 times per second as if to say "Hand me a dish towel,and your work will be done." The landscape was hand picked by whatever Mother Nature had in mind for you that day,whether rain, sleet, or snow, a tractor could be seen climbing up the crop lined hill.To a farmer the work is never done,to a child visiting the farm, the fun has just begun. And so it was for me,a child.

I imagine as we arrived one by one, behind my Uncles handsome weathered smile came the thought..... "My work will never get done." None the less I wrapped my arms around his neck,looked him up and down,the boots,the hat,the snaps on his plaid shirt,the smell of dirt mixed with soap on a rope,was the reason we travelled the distance.He was famous in our eyes,he rode horses,and drove tractors,he was handsome and timeless,he was the John Wayne that I would brag about in my 4Th grade essay entitled "What I did over the summer."

While Mickey Mouse and roller coaster rides were a thrill,two cousins galloping down the road on a pony in my mind,was a paradise retreat.My cousin Lori lived on the ranch that I coveted,I am sure that she wished that her summer did not always consist of her being the farms tour guide for her cousin (that's me) who lived on an Air Force Base.I am sure that Lori hoped that just once in her childhood she would get to go to a fun park, instead of repeatedly looking into the face of her wide eyed cousin who looked like she won the lottery every time a live chicken ran by.There were kittens to be caught and ropes to be swung on,and a pond for swimming,but nothing that made a young girl more happy than a pony for riding.

This story is one that I call "The Summer of the Ponies." So original I can hardly stand it.None the less a favorite horror story of mine that I will always cherish.A couple of girls,a couple of ponies,who knew ? The thought of riding a pony for me was another lottery winning moment,Lori (my summer farm guide) and I headed out early one afternoon for a ride on the neighbors ponies.With the pony riding festivities came one rule from my Uncle- "NO RUNNING THE PONIES !" We grinned and me with the wide eyed happy psychotic trance I was in,straddled my pony and we began to walk them down the country road,slow and easy.My Uncle got back to his work and we waved like Rodeo Queens without the jewel lined hats. I was in pony paradise,my pony wasn't pink and was lacking ribbons,but it was doable.walking the ponies down the burrow pit was a breeze,my fear of riding a four legged animal had left me and I now was a confident,professional,pony rider.If i stretched my legs far enough my toes could drag on the ground,it was like riding a rather large dog,but one that stopped to eat grass along the way.With my new found confidence I wondered, "Why must we walk the ponies ? " I want the wind rushing on my face, I want to gallop through the fields of honey,I want to raise my arm in the air and pretend that I have long golden braids and a flowing hickish dress with lace and ribbons. I could do this, I can gallop a pony !!!

My thoughts became reality as I began kicking my pony in the gut and yelling " yaw yaw ! " My pony about choked on the grass dangling from his yellow stained teeth,as did my tour guide Lori.What was I thinking galloping my pony ? Soon my ponies eyes began rolling and he fought me every kick in the gut of the way,but oh nooooo,I had seen the old western movies,my pony was not fooling me,I knew that I could control him and that I did.It was exhilarating ! My legs were a kicken' on both sides,"YAW ! YAW ! YOU FOOL !" I would yell.I could feel the wind in my face,my thin baby fine hair was flowing,and I was galloping a pony into an oblivion ! Lori and I ran those ponies for hours,we had never had so much fun!Even Lori who lived on the farm had never experienced breaking the rules and making a ponies tongue hang out for miles.This was certainly better than a theme park and would grant me an A+ essay.

The sun had surfaced on the hill and the the day became night.Sadly I could here the valley settle,the crickets singing their lullaby and the kittens purring by the back door for milk,and then there was the sound of my Uncles voice,much like john Wayne's it was low and abrupt. "Where in the hell have you been on the ponies?" I slid off my pony and walked a little bull legged to stand behind Lori,there was a bum imprint made of sweat on my ponies back as he tried to stand up straight with his tongue dangling off to the side.I could now hear the desperate pant of the pony that I had some how missed while I was riding loco ! We were in deep if ponies could talk !!! Again my Uncle in a stern John Wayne voice and a crinkle in his forehead that I had never seen before asked, "Did you RUN these ponies?" I looked at my tour guide for the answer in which she said, "Nope." and then we walked our lying bull legged bodies to bed and anticipated what we would do tomorrow.

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sydne, I love your stories. Reminds me a bit of my childhood. We didn't live on a farm either. My cousins did. I take that back, we lived on a farm for about 6 months. It was amazing. And every time I drive past it,, when I visit Michigan, I dream of one day living there again. 6 months just wasn't enough. ;o}

Michael Michael

You have a knack for painting an incredible picture.

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