Thursday, December 19, 2013

A Midwinter Day’s Stream

More snow has fallen since last week, but nothing unmanageable. There was a need to dig through the wall of snow (largely compacted into ice) stretched in front of my driveway by the street plows, of course, but that was to be expected. The roads have remained passable thanks to those same plows. Nonetheless, I’m glad to have my old 1998 GMC 4WD pick-up, if only to navigate my driveway. The driveway inclines upward from the road. It is not steep but it is long, so 2WD vehicles commonly lose traction about halfway up. This has advantages: I’m not as keen on random visitors as I once was.

I haven’t taken my new little Chevy (see November 7 blog) out in the snow at all. I probably should, just to see how it handles, but probably won’t. Nor will I be going out on horseback. In years past I would trail ride in the winter without a thought. Nowadays I’m likely to give it a thought – and go on thinking about it until Spring.

While the cold presently is a deterrent, in truth I have regretted having chosen to ride in the snow only once, and that was when I was all of 13 years old. Pocasset was generally a good-tempered horse (I don’t know why he was named after a town in Massachusetts), but every now and then he would do something odd. One snowy winter day he suddenly decided to gallop off at full speed. Many horses do this – typically for no discernible reason – and at age 13 I didn’t have the power or skill to stop. A runaway will tire eventually, and, if you can’t stop him, the trick is simply to hang on until then. On this occasion, however, he came rushing up to a stream. He didn’t like water, so he planted his hooves at the water’s edge. Obeying Newton’s First Law of Motion, I flew over his head and splashed down on my back in the middle of the icy stream. The water was just deep enough to soak my clothes and fill my boots. It was a very long, very chilly ride back to the stable. By luck rather than skill I still held the reins by one hand as I lay in the water, or it would have been a long chilly walk back.

At home while warming up after my unplanned bath, I heard my cat fussing at the back door. He was a long-hair (no special breed) and was soaked from the tip of his tail to the neck, so an enormous fluffy head topped a bedraggled skinny wet body. He had walked on the ice on the pond in the back yard and fallen through. I knew just how he felt.

Despite regrettable experiences on ski slopes and on ice, I’m not totally averse to hibernal sports even today, but I’m quite sure I won’t be joining the Polar Bear Club for midwinter swims. Pocasset dissuaded me long ago.

From the back door

I trust the Republican Guardsman didn’t splash in the Seine


  1. I like how both you and your cat shared a similar fate that day. It must mean something, or have something to do with time travel. We'll have to ponder on that.

    I didn't know you were a rider at such a young age. When did you first start riding horses?

  2. Synchronicity rears its fluffy head.

    Horseback riding was part of the sports program at my school, which, like many prep schools, was grades 7-12 (Forms I-VI). I was 11 in the 7th grade, and that's when I began riding. Among the folks with whom I now ride, this counts as a late start; a couple of them sat in a saddle before they could walk.

    Surprisingly few students availed themselves of the opportunity: in a typical year, only about 10-15 students rode out of the 110-120 in the school.