This past weekend my grandson Kayden arrived for another memorable visit. Together we ate things that weren’t good for us, frolicked with newborn calves, and stayed up far too late. We even had a snowball fight, although I have to say Kayden would have made a sneaky sort of gunslinger.
Back in the old west, on the show Gunsmoke, Marshall Matt Dillon would have never shot a man in the back or gunned down unsuspecting folks from the safety of a building, no matter what kind of low-down, dirty rotten varmints they were. And he would most certainly not have taken pot-shots at his own grandmother. However, Kayden paid for these poorly thought-out schemes eventually. When you get older, you’re expected to revert to childhood – right?
Something about springtime frees your soul and makes you feel young again – or youngish, anyway. When the sun warms your face, and a warm breeze clears the winter frost from your brain, it’s hard not to feel reborn along with the rest of the earth. I think we who are fortunate enough to live in the country have a special kinship with this rebirth, a closeness to the land and its inhabitants. Maybe this sounds a bit fanciful, but I have a story to back my theory up.
It happened quite a few years ago on a frosty April night. My three kids were concerned about their mare, Tina, who was heavily in foal.
“Maybe tonight,” Dad had said, stroking a hand along the mare’s swollen side. We’d gathered to assess her condition as she stood placidly in a snug shed at one end of the field. Everyone agreed there was a contemplative look in her eyes and a few other, more telling signs.
Dad turned, noticing the worry on each small face, and hastened to reassure. “She’s had plenty of foals in her day. She’ll be fine.”
Later that night, I woke in the inky stillness of my bedroom and sat bolt upright to check the clock. It was 3am. Why had I awakened? Something was wrong.
I pulled a coat over my pyjamas and stole silently out of the house. High overhead, the moon cast her silvery glow across the path before me as I hurriedly crunched through the glittering grass, watching clouds of my breath puff away on the still night air.
Unexpectedly, a loud moaning noise shattered the silence of the night, becoming louder and more tortured with every passing second. I broke into a run. Over the fence, I flew and dashed into the pasture to see Tina lying flat upon the frozen earth – a large, white, struggling mass behind her. It was the foal making the horrible gasping sound! Fully encased in the amniotic sac, it couldn’t breathe, and as I got closer, it ceased its feeble struggles and was still.
“Tina!” I yelled. Startled out of her exhaustion by my sudden appearance, she snorted and lunged to her feet. As she did so, the sac was torn away from the tiny creature within, and Tina wheeled around to begin nuzzling him. Seeing the foal lift a shaky head in answer, I stopped, panting, and sat down to watch the age-old bonding take place.
While I don’t profess to be more in tune with nature than the next guy, I’ll always be grateful I was awakened that night.
The magic of spring.