- Mark Spragg, Where Rivers Change Direction
The question was 'what do you want for your 12th birthday?' She answered 'horseback riding lessons.' Rest assured, there were other gifts on her list, but that's the one that caught my attention. So, I sold my gold watch and my girlfriend sold her hair and we cobbled together the profits and moved toward this gift.
She partied yesterday afternoon with girls her age. They went to the movies, ate cupcakes and ice cream, talked girl-talk. But last night, just about dusk, I stepped in and we drove to a place I'd heard of on Doolittle Road.
It was just to be a meet-n-greet, something tangible attached to the note in her card that read 'horseback riding lessons, love mom and dad.' The owner introduced herself and took us on the grand tour of barn and horses. We met creatures with names like Ellie, Cinnamon, and Joe. One of the kids asked which one is your favorite? She replied well, the one I happen to be riding at the time. Yes, I liked this lady-horse-whisperer.
I realize all of this may go south...my 12 yr old not-so-little-girl may not take to the lessons, she may get spooked, get sick, get bored...its all in the gamble of kids. And I'm not using 'gamble' in some silly-assed-figurative-sense...no, I mean the straight-out-roll-of-the-dice sense. I routinely roll snake eyes, but last night, for one evening, the house was gracious.
The parting gift was watching horse and rider show off. Dusk took her brief stage and we stood along the white fence while a lady-in-boots and her gentle giant danced for us. An arena loudspeaker played a lonesome tune sung by a fallen angel. The wind whipped and cooled our backs, dust filled our eyes. Two barn cats watched a performance they must see daily. And the green of Colorado was a hue to break your heart. It was one of those moments, one pregnant with the essence of things hoped for. It was a happy birthday.