Horseback riding happens after all


Yes! Yes! Yes, I did go horseback riding — not on my exact 87th birthday but 10 days into my 88th year!

I know this is not the most important happening I should write about — like the fragrant blizzard of pink and white blossoms now blowing across the driveway, like the two darling goslings paddling around between their proud parents on the pond and tripping through the grass — but it did mark a milestone for me and I wanted to share it with you.

Joan Pantalone of Canal Fulton, one of the lovely ladies who three times a year bring her horses to Judy’s for dressage clinics, instructed by the renowned Erik Herbermann, kindly offered to let me ride her 20-year-old Arabian mare, Lady. I gratefully accepted.

Even though my unscheduled ride interfered with the regular schedule, all of the other ladies generously gave me a few minutes of their hour so I might achieve this goal.

(I have known these wonderful women and their horses since I rode my beloved N’ahli in front of Erik many years ago. I rode her on my 80th birthday and subsequent ones until she went to Green Pastures Jan. 2, 2007. I’ve been blessed to have such good friends who allow me to continue my tradition aboard their horses.)

So we walked around the arena, and I felt so at home. I had taken my own saddle and since dear Lady was white, as N’ahli had been, it was truly de’ja vu. We even did a token trot, just to prove to myself I could still do it.

Next year? Who knows, but one can always hope.

* * *

Now to the really important happenings:

Yes, the barn swallows and the wrens came back on their appointed day, April 25. The catbird began her garbled robin imitations on the 26th, the same day the goslings hatched. I knew that morning they had arrived, as Papa Goose was standing on the bank with his “family” whereas before he had kept either on the opposite bank or in the water so he could be protective if needed.

The last of the winter’s juncos left April 19, although Randy Jones tells me he has a pair that appears to be staying year round. The white-throated sparrow sang his “Old Sam Peabody” whistle April 20, and the white-crowned trilled in on the 20th. Yesterday, I put binoculars to three shiny spots on the pond bank — plate-sized painted turtles!

* * *

A great response to the column about the late Lois Switzer and her book, Over the Counter and Under the Shelf. An e-mail (to Susan Crowell at Farm and Dairy, since I don’t have e-mail) was from Diana Kitchen who checked a Web site she uses looking for used books and found two copies, one for $75 and the other for $125! I wrote to thank her, and she replied with a note and delightful pictures of the furry and feathered residents of Fox Fire Farm at Orwell where she lives with her parents, both in their 80s.

Debbie Eells, manager at Agland in Canfield, well remembers Miss Switzer who had been Debbie’s husband’s French teacher in high school. And she had given Debbie and Craig a wedding present which Debbie still has. Debbie recalls that over the years, Miss Switzer continued to “educate” those whom she met in friendship and in casual conversation. Ever the consummate teacher.

* * *

In the May/June ’07 issue of Bird Watcher’s Digest, I found this thoughtful poem written by the late Ora E. Anderson, honorary lifetime director of the Ohio Chapter of the Nature Conservancy. He died at 94.

Maybe I’m mistaken, but as a senior myself, I sense an ambiguity in these flowing words:

So many springs have passed me now
With sweet sound of birdsong
And peeper chorus.
The drum roll of sudden showers,
And cloud fleets coursing
blue, blue skies.
My vintage wine comes
In old, old bottles, yet
Still sweet to the tongue,
With flowers of yesterday.

* * *

How about this: “Life begins at 40 — but so do fallen arches, rheumatism, faulty eyesight, and the tendency to tell a story to the same person three or four times.” (Helen Rowland) Anyone you know?

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