Sunday, April 20, 2008

Animal Moments

Animal Moments

By Randy J. Cole



Ah, our furry friends who entertain us and keep us company on days when no one else likes us. My children often take refuge with our little dog, Peter Parker, when sent to their rooms. He could care less if they just did something wrong. Unconditional love is what you will receive if you treat them with respect and surprisingly, even if you don’t. I am compelled to write this short story, I suppose, because of the attention that has been given to the animals displaced by Mother Nature’s furry in the south. I am also compelled to write this story because I am fifty three and may soon start to forget the moments I shared with the members of the animal kingdom, who sometimes show their unappreciated sense of humor.
In 1975, while I was stationed in South Dakota with the Air Force, I met and married a young lady who owned several horses. Now being from Montana, you would think that I would have experienced the thrill of riding off into the sunset on a trusty stead. Unfortunately, I was from a logging town in the northwest corner of the state and lived in town where there were no horses, sheep or cows. I did own a dirt bike, however, but that’s another story. I did watch Gunsmoke and Bonanza which, as I found out, did not qualify me as a cowboy.
When my wife offered me the chance to ride a big, white horse named Powder, it would have been unthinkable for me to say no. I managed to get myself up and onto the horse, which had no saddle and no mercy. With a tap of the heels, we were off to a nice trot which turned into a not so nice gallop and without instruction from me, a terrifying run at what felt like the speed of sound. We were headed directly towards the barbed wire fence that only days before I had repaired. In all fairness, I really didn’t get thrown off, it was more like a leap of faith, which was a mistake. I should never have put my faith into the idea that I could land gracefully onto the hard pasture ground that Powder knew so well.I really can’t describe the landing because I am not sure I was there at the time. Perhaps I decided to take leave of my earthly body and travel to a safe place, like under my childhood bed, curled into the fetal position. Or maybe I just lost conciseness for a moment after striking the ground with the force of a bunker buster projectile. When I was once again aware of my surroundings, I heard the distinct sound of my wife laughing. As my eyes opened one at a time, I realized that I had come to rest in an area not ten feet from the fence line. This fence ran parallel to the main highway which took visitors to Mt. Rushmore Monument. Oh joy! Concerned tourists from around the world stopped to point, laugh and even take pictures before I was able to move. I am sure they would have asked if I needed medical attention if they hadn’t been distracted by my wife’s infectious little laugh.
As feeling returned to my limbs and life-giving breath could once again flow freely into my lungs, I slowly turned my head away from the tourists. My friend Powder had returned to the scene of the crime, but was unable to look me in the eye, standing, instead, five feet away with her big, white backside facing me.
Thirty some years later, I wonder if there isn’t a grandson asking his Grandpa about the photo he found with the words, “On way to Mt. Rushmore 1975” scribbled on the back. “Who’s the horse’s ass grandpa?” A clever grandpa would answer, “I don’t know Billy, just some guy who thought he could ride a horse!”