Shakespeare: To ride, or not to ride?


Actually, it was Shakespeare who made the decision whether or not I would ride a borrowed horse on my 85th birthday.
Of course I still have dear old Apache and dear silly Toby but neither would be suitable for me to ride, so since my sweet Arabian mare, N’ahli, passed away in January I am without a suitable mount.
Traditionally I had ridden her on my birthday as I have done since my 80th – I did ride her between birthdays, I should note – but this year was different.
Anyhow, one of the ladies riding in the April dressage clinic at Judy’s, kindly offered to let me ride her lovely Arabian mare, and I was all prepared to take her up on the suggestion.
But on the morning of the day, the view out the bedroom window was so depressing with rain and snow and wind, that Shakespeare’s advice, “The better part of valor is discretion,” came to mind and I snuggled back beneath the blanket for another snooze.
Discretion would spare my bones until a warmer day, birthday or not.
The Aries horoscope for the day was interesting with no ridiculous reference to romance: “Focus on all the reasons you can have everything you want out of life. The reasons you can’t have what you want turn out to be a crock! One by one, you reclaim your dreams.”
That is not quite accurate, as my dreams were reclaimed long ago and I have had everything I wanted out of life and there is nothing I want, crock or not!
I’m sure not many octogenarians can say that. I have indeed been richly blessed despite the expected bumps in the road of a long life.
* * *
Does it not seem that the entire world has gone mad? The Virginia massacre has chilled us all to the bone and even Mother Nature has vented wrath with weather unparalleled.
Perhaps Al Gore should do a bit more research and we’ve already decided that Punxsutawney Phil has lost it.
Speaking of groundhogs, they’re very much up and about here as of April 5. One fat soul brazenly grazes in the side yard and a smaller one occasionally sneaks into the back barn when the door blows open a crack.
Sister spied it the other morning and forgot all about her crippling arthritis as she flew in pursuit. The creature slipped out before her very eyes. Now she checks every morning to see of it has come back.
The cold has been responsible for one good thing: Daffodils, battered by wind and rain and snow and freezing temperatures, are lasting longer than they would have during more typical warmth.
But wouldn’t we rather have no daffodils and more sunshine? Alas, fruit trees and flowering shrubs aren’t so resilient and only time will tell how much damage has been done.
Still regarding the weather: Is anyone else bothered by the constant hand movements and posturing of the television weather reporters? All have apparently been to the same school, as their gestures are identical.
The same distractions are evident with the local anchors and reporters. If only they’d keep their hands quiet, we could concentrate on what they’re reporting instead of anticipating the next movement!
* * *
The parade of wildlife on the back porch continues to entertain me, but one chipmunk is soon going to live elsewhere. He is terrorizing not only birds five times his size but even rabbits who leap into the air as he attacks them.
He manages to reach the window feeder and pays no attention to me until I open the door to scare him. He’s back before I sit down.
* * *
Remember when a drug store was a drug store and not a pharmacy? And when it was just that, and didn’t have shelves stocked with a thousand different brands of whatever you went to get?
So you wanted toothpaste? There are so many kinds doing – or claiming to do – so many things you finally just shut your eyes and grab one.
We are inclined to save things we think we may need some day. In the drawer in the bathroom cupboard is a perfect example and is indeed an antique.
In the days before electric razors, there were the hand-held kind that needed double-edge blades. I still keep several small packets of those blades and they are labeled “Gay Blade Co.” and were made in Newark, N.J.
Who remembers when a “gay blade” was a merry person with a lively outlook on life?
* * *
My thanks to everyone who sent such lovely birthday greetings. From one I cut out this message: “Make the most of yourself as that is all there is to you.” Think on it.
* * *
Earth Day has come and gone. I wonder how the developers who are stripping every blade of grass and every tree from the earth observed it?


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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.