Sunday, April 28, 2013

Going Out To Dinner

So I have this rule that my personal life, certainly my dates, are never written about on this blog. I respect both my partner's and my own right to privacy that isn't on display or up for discussion online. But some dinner dates are so great, so breathtakingly amazing, that I feel obligated as a writer and artist to share them with the world.

I was taken out to dinner tonight by a middle-aged guy I've been on and off with for the last year. He's smart, tall, and has amazing hair that you kind of lose yourself in if you let yourself touch it. Dark, brown eyes and a knowing grin. A smartass through and though, just like I like them. He's from the UK and while he's not a big talker, he has this way about him that intrigues the hell out of me. I fell for him hard, at first sight, and since he walked into my life it hasn't been the same. I wish the same for every woman, to know this kind of satisfaction, companionship, and use of her thigh muscles….

Merlin was taking me out to dinner.

Yup. I had a dinner date with my horse. It was that golden afternoon light, right before sunset and Merlin was tied up to the hitching post outside my little farmhouse. He was carrying saddlebags laden with a cooler of drinks and dinner, utensils, napkins, and an icepack as well as the gear always on hand during trail ride. You know what I mean, things like a spare halter, lead rope, hoof pick, bug spray, and such. Tied to the top of the saddle bags, behind the saddle, was a wool blanket my mother gave me. I used baling twine to lash it down. This was my kind of night out. I couldn't hold back my grin as the golden rays split through the trees. I hopped onto his back and we reined out onto the road at a trot. We were going out to dinner and we were going on a picnic.

We rode across the street to the dirt path that leads to our trailhead. Once there we walked, trotted, and cantered across field, forest and stream. Merlin would stop to drink and splash and I'd stretch, feeling the heat of the welcomed sun on my face, knowing the season a way few lucky people do. We walked along a running stream, up a steep little cliffside as we headed towards an open hayfield. Once there I hopped off, tied Merlin by a lead top and halter to a small tree, and unloaded the blanket, dinner, and e-reader for my respite. This would be a night to remember....

The meal wasn't fancy, but it was delicious. I ate ravioli out of a ziplock bag and sipped cider as I sat on the blanket. I read a chapter from The Protector's War as I munched. The weather was a perfect seventy degrees. The kind of seventy degrees only people who spent the winter feeding a wood stove on -13 degree nights can appreciate. I savored the food. I sipped the cider like it was nectar from heaven. I read and laughed quietly to myself, listening to the tail swishes and occasional sighs from Merlin. It was my first picnic of the season and it was sublime.

To some people eating out means a restaurant. To me it means this, being outside and so wrapped up in the moment you lose track of time. I spent an hour out there in the grass, reading and occasionally talking to a horse. He was good company and seemed to appreciate the peppermint treats I had in my pocket and cold stream water he got to slurp and splash his heavy feet in. It was a fun night out for him as well. I reciprocate what I can.

We stayed outside until the sun left my eastern side of the mountain and a light chill blew across the field. I had a light sweater in the saddlebags and slid it over my head. I thought about how in a few weeks the fireflies would be out at this time, and I'd be a shell of my former self, exhausted from an afternoon of haying and stacking bales. Summer will hit so fast, and I'm not ready for it. As I secured lashed gear and talked softly in Gaelic to Merlin, I wondered to myself what a moonlit walk home on those trails among the creeks and fireflies would be like? How it would soak into my skin and become a memory I told people about for the rest of my life? When I grow nostalgic at something that hasn't even happened yet, I know it is time to go home. I packed up rest of the picnic into Merlin's panniers and tied off the rolled blanket and we headed back down the mountain to Cold Antler. My stomach full, my horse content, and the road short with chores like milking and chick feeding ahead. Work never stops here, but little vacations like this balance out the anxieties.

I rode home a women heading into chores having just left the best dinner date she had experienced in years. I knew I wasn't getting laid tonight, but damned if I didn't get lucky.