In the Afternoon

Thu, 11/14/2019 - 7:30pm

In the afternoon one or more of the horses are often near the gate, either waiting for dinner, or hoping for a second serving. The other day there was only one vehicle by the wall, and the corresponding animal missing.

It was easy enough to put those pieces together, only one was being ridden that day. The two left behind, one of whom often fusses if he is the sole one remaining, were simply standing in the field, noses pointed west, clearly pouting, not looking my way when I approached the wall.

The Falki, the younger, a silver boy with flowing mane and tail and long white eyelashes, “blinked” and glanced my way. Oddin, older, more practiced in his bratty ways, quite certain I did not come bearing treats, refused to turn his head.

It is only a matter of time before Falki, with his clever ways, wears me down and I start going out with carrots, but not yet. Well, he already has gotten the better of me, he did get an apple with his poor forlorn pony impersonation, one I had to cut up as the others charged the gate somehow knowing a treat was coming.

We are in a cool snap but none of the animals here, the Icelandic horses, or my looks-like-a-golden but is really one-quarter Bernese Mountain dog, or the ever-growing flock of Canada geese in the field seem to care.

The horses are beginning to show their winter dress, looking like finely crafted stuffed toys more than sturdy animals bred over centuries to thrive on the tundra. From their fuzzy hobbit feet to their thickening coats to their quickened step, they seem fine with the fall cold.

Unless one of their usual companions gets to go out on an adventure while they stay pasture-bound.

It was cold this morning, in the twenties, with a strong northwest wind creating a “feels like” temperature in the single digits, and my golden Autumn happily went out to roll on the grass and lie in the sun. She is barking at the geese, now, my silly dog who has seemed to learn she is not going to catch the deer and her interest in them has waned accordingly. The winged geese, however, she still foolishly pursues, the geese who not only fly away, but often fly away over a pond. I think of my sweet gentle Shad, who would go down to that same mucky-bottomed pond when the way to it was still clear. He would wade out, his feet sinking in the mud, his plume of a tail floating on the water, and bark at the little flock, merrily paddling just beyond his reach.

The flock is growing every day, drawn, probably, by the deeply green grass cut late in the season. There were 20 geese feasting in the front field, and then there were fifty, and now I cannot be bothered counting them. They are, singularly, beautiful, elegant creatures, with black velvet necks and bright white cheek patches above carefully painted brown bodies. They are a marvel in their traditional chevron flight, although I'm not sure I agree with my field guide's assessment of their “rich, musical honking.” They are more in number than they used to be, in truth, they are commonplace, and a bit of a nuisance, but that sight — and even sound — still has something magical to it, evoking memories of a time when it was exciting having such wondrous knowledge to recognize by widening V shaped pattern exactly what kind of bird was passing overhead.

It was so mild last week I walked out of a night meeting and did not realize until I got home, after the Town Hall was locked, the security system set, that I had left my coat on the back of a chair in the Council chamber. It was cooler the next day, then warm and cool again. Yesterday we had a flurry of slushy snowflakes and this morning it was cold enough that I thought of getting out my gloves. They remain, the year round, in a basket by the door, waiting for the cold. In a very uncharacteristic move, I purged them a few years ago, tossing knitted gloves that had no warmth in the Block Island wind, and others that had become tattered.

My hands get cold, they always have, but despite that I have never been able to keep track of warming apparel: the beautiful hand-knitted in an intricate Scandinavian design mittens my mother made me when I was in college, the loss of which prompted me to crochet a string to secure the replacement pair; the fringed green suede gloves that came from a shop on Canal Street in New York which fit so well and I think I dropped in the Interstate parking lot years ago; the green leather from an outlet in Worcester that became the very definition of “went missing;” red suede that I liked but were too thick and stiff to be of any practical use.

I settled, not so long ago, at last, on what I considered the ultimate find, black leather from Job Lot. They fit, they were not expensive, and were as warm as any of my long string of good, better and almost best gloves had been.

Finding them today proved another story, which triggered a memory of not being able to find them, or find many, last year. There were only two in the basket, both left-handed, one torn, and a pair of old gardening gloves, and some mittens I'd found in a ski shop before a holiday trip to Maine. The last were so cheap, I soon realized, because they were too hot for anything but the coldest of winter nights.

I gave up, then, in my car, had an epiphany; last year I had determined to settle this and left a pair in the glove compartment, of all places. There they were, both right-handed.

Time for a trip to Job Lot.