Summer’s here. Be patient, please.
Snow fell today, June 22, and left behind enough slush to shovel if you were too impatient to wait for the sun to do its magic. I waited.
With more snow in tomorrow’s forecast, even the most diehard Fraser Valley locals whispered to each other in our Safeway checkout line, We are so done with winter!
How could such a mild-mannered season created for baseball, bikinis and barbecues, demand that we scrape windshields (with mittens on) in June?
Undaunted, some of us pretended nothing was amiss. We gooped on globs of Banana Boat as though summer just walked in the door like a breath of hot air. Gardeners planted tomatoes with reckless abandon. Neighbors hosed down filthy cars and trucks.
When I bumped into an elderly crowd on this snowy morning, none of these familiar faces muttered a cuss word about the weather. There was no naysaying, but plenty of neighing.
Being old horses, of course, they had nothing to say about the weather period.
They milled around in their paddock, balancing on three legs, flicking their tails as though snow wasn’t there. Horses gathered around steel cages of broken up hay bales, inhaling breakfast like kids emptying a box of Cheerios without a spoon. Hooves made sucking noises in the muddy paddock. (And when the horses farted, quite naturally, they did so with extraordinary delight.)
Occasionally, a deaf Appaloosa named Hawk blinked his big old eyes at the snow-capped fence posts, followed by a long lazy stare. He pondered existential questions nobody else could answer.
Not far away stood Yogi, a cantankerous soul with a heart of fool’s gold. He shrieked and bellowed (talking trash) whenever one of his four-legged colleagues showed him the slightest disrespect, which was often.
Chestnut, a former Forest Service retiree, twitched his big old ears at a bunch of bundled-up humans talking winter weather by the hitching post. He nickered in amusement.
As for Cassie, a spirited mare the color and strength of a mighty oak table, she snorted just for the pure joy of snorting on a summer morning. Hers was a life-affirming snort.
Other members of the herd we’ll call Hawk & Associates hung around as if waiting for something to happen. Somehow they knew it would, and greeted today as if it were like any another day at the office, no different than yesterday, and probably much like tomorrow would be.
Which was totally fine with Hawk & Associates.
When you’re a horse whose only job requires that you walk about in the arena and out on the trails with a child aboard, life is good. Sometimes you get to trot and canter, but there’s no galloping here at the Therapeutic Riding Center on Snow Mountain near Tabernash.
Indeed, Hawk & Associates seemed content to be breakfasting with each other before the start of their work day. As horses mostly ignored a half dozen human grownups outside their paddock, sunshine melted snow from surrounding pine branches. Drip drip.
Soon enough, kids showed up for riding lessons. They are a select breed of kids who happen to not only love and respect horses, they happen to have a host of disabilities. Over summer months and well into fall, smiling youngsters show up here with their parents, grandparents and counselors just to sit high in the saddle of a mighty steed.
Where else can you, sporting cool boots and a shiny helmet, learn to control a half ton of muscle and adrenalin from the saddle? Under the guidance of dedicated grownups and teens, it happens all summer long up high among the snowy peaks. Where the antelope still play, so do kids.
Moreover, when they laugh, it seems like he forgets about his autism, and she forgets her Down syndrome. For this one special hour, they leave behind their cerebral palsy or impaired vision, their brain injuries or missing limbs. It’s not magic, simply kids being kids astride horses being horses.
Hawk & Associates recognize cowgirls and cowboys as plain young riders, not disabilities. If they happen to squirm in the saddle and yank unpredictably on the reins (clenched in tiny fists), horses understand it goes with the territory.
With spring mostly behind us, summer’s just around the corner. You just wait.