Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Carts & Chocolate

The first time I saw Patty Wesner walk out of her house with a horse collar over her shoulder and a pair of driving lines in her hand, I was in awe. To me the idea that any normal person could hitch and harness a horse and take it for a drive on a public road was a brand of magic I didn't know I was even allowed to witness. Where I grew up no one had horse carts. The only place you could even consider being on one was a ride through Central Park, a pumpkin patch trip at some fancy agri-tourist destination, or some sort of fair or parade. And even then, the only way you were getting on board was if you knew someone or had a lot of money to hand over. No, horse carts were not what middle-class people drove. They drove Ford Tauruses.

It took a few months but Patty taught me how to harness a horse and drive it. I learned with her handsome Percheron Steele and then when Merlin came into my life I eventually learned from him as well. And now just a little over a year later when I got a message on my Facebook Page from a neighbor/ex-coworker from Orvis that she had my favorite chocolate in the WORLD waiting for me, I didn't think twice, I just hitched up the cart.

My good friend James (also a coworker when I worked at Orvis), his wife is from the Czech Republic. Lucy and his daughter Emma just returned from a trip back to the Motherland and brought something very, very special home just for me. KOFILA! My favorite candy ever, ever ever!

Koflia is a milk chocolate bar filled with coffee cream. Lucy's father works at the factory where it is made and every time they head over to the CR they bring back a box for me. Now that I don't work at Orvis any longer the Silk Road to precious trade goods went via my neighbor Nina, who also works at Orvis. She brought the chocolate bars to her home at the base of my mountain and when I saw her little electronic note I told her I would drive down. I meant drive a horse cart, of course.

I love my little red cart and my strong black pony. It took me less than fifteen minutes to get Merlin tacked up, cart loaded with me, and to be at Nina's house a mile from mine. Had I just left my house at a brisk jog it would have taken at least twelve minutes (and that's downhill, not a suburb runner by any means), so to make that kind of time via horse drawn wood and wheels was fantastic.

I drove Merlin into her backyard and tied his haltered lead rope to one of their porch posts. I ran around to their door and knocked. Nina came out to meet me and I asked if it was okay to park on her lawn, pointing to Merlin standing proudly next to her porch railing. She squeaked and told her sons and husband to come outside. The boys, Rowan and Tristan pet the pony and little Tristan came along for a walk in a circle around their backyard. It was a hoot. She handed me a few bars of Kofila and I thanked her over and over. I sat on the back of my little red cart and we just caught up on the local news and stories. The Balloon Festival is this weekend. I know it's a big deal but I hate hot air balloons, the entire concept is terrifying to me. Wicker basket death traps…**shudder*** … Anyway, we talked and laughter and after I wore out my welcome I waved goodbye and headed home with Merlin at a good clip.

When I got home I quickly got the horse out of cart and harness and lead him to his paddock to enjoy dinner and a big drink of water. Jasper was happy to see him return, and the two boys walked side by side out to the field with green grass and room to roll and play tag. I was left with the work of putting away the harness, lines, collar, and gear. As I went about the normal work of it my mind was somewhere in the happy place of pre-chocolate consumption and I didn't realize what I had just done. I had slung Merlin's collar over my shoulder and had his lines in my right hand. I was walking them into my house, now a full-blown initiate into the world of everyday horse cart drivers. Something inside my heart clicked over into a new gear and I couldn't wipe the grin off my tired face. I went inside with a smile bigger than any hard cider or first date ever granted.

Sometimes we don't even realize a dream came true because we're too busy living it. Or, rather, too involved with our chocolate. Either way, that's a fine outcome for a Wednesday night.