No birthday horseback riding this year


No, I didn’t go horseback riding on my 87th birthday, the first time in many, many years I haven’t observed that tradition — but only because no “suitable” horse was available.

Last year, there was a darling mare, Angel, visiting at Judy’s during one of her dressage clinics, and I was privileged to ride her. At my age, I don’t need to prove anything by boarding a lively mount — I’ve been on many a one in my almost eight decades of riding — but with a clinic coming up this week at Judy’s I hope to once again be back in the saddle, if only for a few laps around the arena.

I have pictures of my birthday rides from 80th on up, and I’d like awfully well to add another to the collection, just as a matter of pride. Before the 80th, it didn’t seem all that important, just natural!

How silly that I keep and care for two wonderful horses of my own and am not able to ride either one. Dear Apache is probably 30 years old and would probably give me a gentle experience, but what would I do about Toby who would be hysterical if his companion went off without him? And I’m not sure about Toby’s “ridability” since as far as I know he has never been saddled, and was only ridden bareback by Everett Hartley’s grandchildren while being led.

If you were among the 50 friends who honored me with cards, you’ll never know how pleased and humbled I was to be so remembered.

* * *

Through binoculars, I’m keeping an eye on Mother Goose who began making her nest by the pond March 14. I slogged through the mud the other day to verify that she was indeed setting, but Papa Goose was becoming agitated and I didn’t want him flying in my face. Years ago one of the protective ganders did fly at me and they are such big birds they do damage. And since my footing wasn’t very stable, I thought it best to retreat.

* * *

No, I haven’t mowed yet, and not just because it is too wet. The side yard is literally lavender with violets and I could not bear to cut them down. Soon, if not now, dandelions will turn green lawn to gold and everyone — not I! — will desperately try to get rid of them by spray or other means.

Elsewhere, beneath the fringing birch tree, spring beauties spread a dimity cover to make way for columbine and larkspur, all of which are welcome volunteers. Everywhere I look there are daffodils and hyacinths, bluebells ready to ring, pear trees and flowering crabapples and magnolias exploding in blossom, and I know my labors planting them over the decades were more than worth the time and effort. Their beauty now almost overwhelms me.

Walking up the driveway, I smile at the two mulberry trees, one on either side, which have so grown they are clasping each other’s branches in a lacey arch. They were just tiny sprigs when I brought them from home and planted them here so many years ago.

When National Wildlife announced — I think in the ’60s — that research showed trees do indeed respond to voice, I confess I do talk to mine as they are all old friends I have known since they were saplings. Especially when I near them with the mower, I think they need to be reassured I’ll not hurt them. (Eccentric old lady here …)

By the time you read this, the swallows and the wrens will have returned, and the goslings will have hatched, and Apache and Toby will finally be shed of their winter coats. The fuel oil tank has been filled for what I pray is the last time before next November, and we’ll all soon be off and running from spring to summer.

Here is your annual hyacinth thought:
If thou of fortune be bereft
And in thy store there be but left
Two loaves, sell one,
And with the dole
Buy hyacinths to feed they soul.


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A lifelong resident of the Mahoning Valley, Janie Jenkins retired in 1987 as a feature writer and columnist at the Youngstown Vindicator. In June of that same year, she started writing her column, "On My Mind" for Farm and Dairy. She loves all animals and is an accomplished equestrienne. Local history is also one of her loves, and her home, the former Southern Park Stables, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.



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