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  • Writer's pictureCaroline

Unbridled, the Spirit of Lucy

Lucy was a beautiful chestnut mare, larger than life to my eight year old self. I recall rubbing the white patch on her forehead. The white patch was special, it was the key to her heart; that and oats. I was a bit of a wild child, when unhindered by fear, and a horse just meant that I could live out my Amazonian princess dreams, hopping on and riding across the terrace imagining that I was off to save the village. With my animals, and nature, I was free. The scared compliant girl had a voice with these elements, even when it wasn't audible.

They never audibly spoke to me, but their spirits spoke to something crooked inside of me, something bent out of shape by conflicting demands of a tortured father. A father who demanded brilliance from his children, then harshly rebuked them that children are to be seen not heard. How can you plant dreams and thoughts and concepts inside of a person and demand they remain silent?

Nature was where I found my toughness. Immersed in dirt, building forts beyond the creek, imagining it was my Narnia. The animals were my friends, my counselors, the ones who set my wild spirit straight without force. This is where, without human audience, I could be truly me.

Yvonne, a dear friend of my mom's, came to live for a time in what used to be the help's house (long before we owned it), a white stucco house set just below the stone farm house we resided in. She taught me that I needed to respect the animals' boundaries, I needed to be consistent in pursuing them, but gentle, unobtrusive. I could not force my love on them and expect them to receive it. She gave me the tools necessary to be the perpetual rescuer of stray cats; I drew my line at cute and furry, no slimy scaly critters for me. Suffice it to say, my mom knew if I was grabbing a snack from the refrigerator, I had found a new friend; "Caroline if you feed them once, they won't stop coming back!" Well, isn't that the goal?!

One day Lucy ran away. I don't recall how she got loose, but she did...and she ran as if the spirit that lead me to leap from boulders and plunge into the thickness of a woods, had sparked inside of her. We lived in Amish country where cars were few, and she roamed from property to property, exploring the places we'd never taken her. To her it was a stroll of curiosity, to my short legs it was an insane marathon. She went from pond to pond, meandering through yards and fields, a slight trot when breathlessly I came within reach.

Horses don't care about your intentions, theirs are paramount, and if they can, they will enforce them. We don't hold a grudge against the horse, it is just doing what horses do, unhindered by fear. We don't say the horse is silly, irrational, or irresponsible, for daring to do what it was designed to do. It has taken me decades, and perhaps decades more, to fully realize the joyful abandon that Lucy lived with. I am not sure what will take place, but as I step out in faith now more than ever before in my life, I feel that spirit welling up within. The one that leaps from boulder to boulder and makes forts out of nature's debris, unaware and unconcerned that perhaps she is drawing outside the lines of what is expected of her.

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