My future plans include a horse.
In the last five days, I have traveled 1,104 miles. Of these 1,104 miles, all but 50 of them have been on a four lane, split highway or in an urban setting. This type of travel lends itself to fast food, mindless radio listening, and the occasional phone call. The high speed of the interstate and the hustle-bustle of Mooresville's rush hour traffic keep me keyed up. I have trouble drifting off to sleep and experience frequent heartburn.
I really hadn't thought about this until I started my 50 miles of non-interstate travel this morning. On a whim, I took a back road instead of the interstate. I was being nosy about a competitor's progress on a job and looking at another road that is being bid this week. So, on my way to our current project, I made this detour. Normally I would hit I-77 and run US 70 until I reached my destination. But this morning, I swung down a country road that winds across the line between Rowan and Iredell Counties.
I am biased towards thinking that the Blue Ridge Mountains are one of the most beautiful places in the world. While our current little piece of the world is not truly in the mountains, or even in the foothills, if we're really honest about it, there is a very pleasant, comforting roll to the land. My road this morning dipped, rose, and turned ever so slightly as I traipsed through the rural landscape. And it was there that it hit me: my future holds a horse. Not just a horse itself, but everything that goes with a horse: extra space, a field with a fence and lots of grass, area for dogs to run and children to play without dodging vehicles. I'm not making a family announcement, and I'm not in any rush for this change of pace. But, there is certainly an edge to life when the trip home feels like an arcade game where the driver dodges all obstacles on the course. Suicidal neighborhood cats, unsupervised children, and teenage drivers are all part of the daily hazards.
For several years now, I have told my Mountain City and Statesville friends that my living requirements include Target, Harris Teeter, Starbucks and the YMCA within one mile, and I have achieved this. And it's wonderful for us. We have every modern convenience available at our finger tips--and designed it exactly that way. I love our home, our access, and our walk-wherever-we-want lifestyle. BUT...many of my best childhood memories involve a horse: taking sugar cubes to feed the mares after school, laughing at the colts when they'd play in the pasture in front of the Maymead office, and riding through the hay fields like they'd go on forever. This is not something that can be replicated with a sushi bar within a quarter mile.
Maybe this is nostalgia, or maybe this is great up-bringing. I recently read a blog (click on the link to see the post shared by Amy Lee) that discussed the value of horseback riding for young girls. And I thought that the author was absolutely spot-on. Manipulating something bigger than you with a gentle nudge, learning the responsibility of mucking stalls, and understanding the strength and potential danger of such a large animal are all valuable lessons. And how wonderful it feels to combine the power, the pride, and exhilaration of all of the hard work, companionship, and respect that goes into the horse and rider relationship. There is really nothing else like it.
The horse isn't the only part of this equation. The horse represents so much more. I want my dogs to run without leashes or fences (where I'm not required to pick up their potty). I want my kids to play without traffic. I want to sunbathe without neighborhood children arriving in my yard. To heck with the conveniences. On mile 800-and-something yesterday, I realized that I bought a $2.00 cup of coffee without batting an eye. Not a latte, not a frappe, a 12 ounce cup of coffee. I have been known to agonize over a $12.00 bag of beans in the store, that will last us for weeks, but I dropped $2.00 without seriously considering it, just because I was on the road. One day, I'm going to brew a WHOLE POT OF COFFEE in my house, and actually be there to drink it. Preferably on a porch. Without neighbors. Where the dogs can run. And my kids can go love on their horse. Forget Target. I'll make a weekly run to Harris Teeter with an actual list and buy everything that I need for the week--without forgetting mustard.
I don't know when and I don't know where (although I would imagine we'll be somewhere in Iredell County,) but I can assure you, my future plans include a horse.