by Laura Crum
I grew up with a passion for horses and the natural world. From ever since I can remember, I’ve loved animals and plants. I loved our family ranch, but we didn’t live there. We lived in a suburban neighborhood around a golf course. I was allowed to visit the family ranch—once a week at best, sometimes once a month.
No one else in my family seemed to have the same ideas I did. I longed to live where I could have horses and chickens and old barns covered in rambling roses, orchards of fruit trees, and barn cats….and live myself in a small, humble cottage. I wanted to gather cattle with the cowboys, and ride my horse through the woods on a quiet, lonely trail. I did not like our big suburban house or the sterile, paved neighborhood complete with speed bumps. Both horses and chickens were forbidden there. The big deal in that place was a swimming pool. I wanted a dirt road and a pasture.
As an adult, I worked hard to make my dream a reality. And I do have horses and chickens and cattle and barn cats, buildings covered in rambling roses, a few fruit trees, and a very small house. All my adult life I have owned horses, and I have spent many years riding with various cow folk, and taken my good horses through the Sierra Nevada Mountains and the coastal hills and beaches, both by myself and with companions. I have a pasture and my driveway is not paved. It makes me happy.
When my son was born, I thought of all this as a gift I could give him—the life I had always wanted. Unlike me, who fought to have any pets at all as a child, my little boy grew up with dogs and cats sleeping on the bed. He rode horses (with me) from when he was six months old. At five years old, I got him a pony. At seven he got his horse, Henry. Now that he is ten, he has been on hundreds and hundreds of trail rides and gathered cattle many, many times with our cowboy friends. The rambling roses bloom outside his window every spring/summer. He runs freely about our property, visiting with the horses, watching the chickens, swinging on his swing in the barnyard. And all this seems to make him happy.
Nevertheless, my son is not me. Though he enjoys these things we have, I don’t think horses will ever be his passion, as they are mine. He often talks about wanting to live in the city, on a busy street. Perhaps we all want what we haven’t got. In any case, I know he must seek his own dream. I have given him the gift that I could give. And I hope that these lovely things will always be a part of him. When I think of his smiling face as he rides his horse or runs down to his swing in the big oak tree, I know that the gift is not so much one that I have given as one I have received. I am so grateful.
Here are some bits of my “gift” that I wanted to share.
The roses have been exuberant this spring. This is Treasure Trove draping the porch.
Rose Dublin Bay on our tool shop/dog shed. Please ignore the mess in the shop.
My son visiting with Sunny.
Headed out on a trail ride with our friend/boarder Wally.
Bringing up the roping cattle with our friend Mark.
Henry grazing in front of the house.
Hope you all are enjoying the gift of horses and spring turning to summer, too, and may all your dreams come true.