The feel of a strong southern breeze on my face tells me there will be no trace of dew on the fescue that bridges the walk from the gravel driveway to the horse shed. In the unsettled darkness an hour before dawn, I see the faint flickerings of distant lightning working their way through the clouds. I can barely see the shape of the gelding moving toward me in the round pen. Journey reaches his nose through the metal frame, sniffs the cat I am holding.
While Randa finishes fixing her hair, I set Ginger on the ground and open the door to the shed. I stand still for a moment, drawing in the scent of hay and sweet feed, leather and horses. Ginger stretches and scratches the door frame. Then, I feel my way toward the tub of feed, take off the lid and dip out a small serving for the horse. He comes around from the pen, stepping quickly toward the bucket mounted on the outside wall of the south end of the shed. I lean through the waist-high opening and dump the feed into the bucket. Journey happily starts his chewing while I drop the old coffee can back into the tub and feel the lid back into place.
In another thirty minutes, the gelding will be loaded into the trailer and Randa will head off with him for their weekend clinic with Cal Noyons a hundred miles away. An hour after that, I will head to work. I’ll come home this evening and let the dog out for her evening constitutional. Tomorrow, I will probably mow the yard, do some sort of home handyman thing or another and continue preparing a sermon. Head over to church Lord’s Day morning and deliver it, I reckon.
Randa will spend three days gaining greater skill and confidence at training her horse. It seems like a pretty mundane weekend so far as I can tell but I swear she seemed almost giddy this morning as she was getting ready to leave. That’s how it is when dreams take another step closer to becoming real, especially the ones that got put on hold for a few decades.
After learning to ride almost before she learned to walk and having to give up her horse when she was fifteen, it took Randa forty-five years to get back to this dream. It took me just over twenty years to fulfill my vow to help her. It is a powerful thing in a marriage when lovers lean toward one another in fulfilling their deepest yearnings, making the small and not-so-small sacrifices necessary.
I stand at the door and watch the taillights of the truck and trailer as Randa turns onto the highway at the end of the sloping drive. Sure is a good kind of giddy going on around here this morning.