Friday, March 23, 2007

The Little Horse Discovers Mountains

The little horse did not dilly-dally on the hike home. He knew he had had a close call, wandering through a desert area without proper supplies.

One question stayed with him as he hungrily marched down the trail. Where were all the pears he had heard about on the desert? He loved fruit and he was hungry. Weren’t there supposed to be prickly pears he could eat?

Back at the parking lot he took one last look around. In the distance he saw towering hills, and behind them, blue slopes of mountains. How they called to him. The desert was beautiful, but the little horse felt drawn to the mountains as if by an invisible rope. They reminded him of his early years in New Hampshire, at the Red House. He remembered gazing at mountains from the porch of the house. He felt a an exciting surge ripple through him. His little tail flicked up and down and he shook his main. His ears pricked forward on their own account. His tail arched higher and higher. Mountains! Some day he would climb them.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

The End of the Trail

On and on plodded the little horse. He could feel his tail drooping with weariness. His ears lay back. He barely glanced from side to side, so intent was he on putting one leg in front of the other. And he had four legs to keep moving, moving, moving, moving. He thought of his sister, safe at home on the bookshelf. Would he ever see her again? Would he survive the desert and be able to tell her of his close brush with dinosaurs? (well, with lizards the size of dinosaurs compared to himself.) On and on and on and on. His nose hung down almost to the ground. Each time he breathed he blew up clouds of dust. Had his au pair been right? Would nothing good come to a little horse who went off on adventures? He almost stopped paying attention. He was dazed and dazzled by the bright sun, the deep blue of the sky. How could a day so beautiful be so hostile and menacing?

He tripped over a rock in the path, nearing banging his nose on the ground. That made him pull himself together. What would his mother and father say if they could see him now, his ears laid back, his neck and tail drooping, not paying attention to anything? They would never let him go on another adventure again.

The little horse stood still and took a deep breath. He pulled himself upright to attention. He sniffed again. Something was in the air, a scent called to him. There was a coolness in the breeze that gave relief from the hot sun. He gave a little whinny, and stepped out on the trail again. The trail rose steeply and he scrambled up to the top of a rock. Was he dreaming? Before him was a lake as blue as the sky. Ducks swam in and out of tangled branches. Swallows swooped overhead. The little horse scrambled down the far side of the rock and cantered to the edge of the lake. Never had water tasted so good to him. He drank and drank, keeping a careful eye out to each side. He waded in up to his knees, letting the water cool him. He dipped his nose into the water and splashed his back. He danced in the water and admired his reflection. He thought about going for a swim, but the words of his au pair came back to him. He knew he should not swim alone. The little horse rested in the shade by the beautiful blue lake for a long time. He drank again before he left, and then he walked carefully down the long trail back to where he had begun. What an adventure he would have to tell his sister, Bel Canto, when he got home. Dinosaurs!

Monday, March 19, 2007

Safe at Last?

The little horse galloped and galloped down the trail. But in the desert, a little horse can only gallop so far before he must slow down and catch his breath. He had not brought any water with him or food. He now realized that that was not a very smart thing to do in so harsh an environment, beautiful though it was. He carefully looked behind him. He glanced to both sides. He did not see any lizards following him, so he slowed to a walk, but he did not dare to leave the middle of the trail, where he could see all around him. That meant he was walking in hot sunshine. He could hear occasional slithering sounds. He caught glimpses of tails disappearing behind rocks. It made his coat shiver and he flicked his little tail. He could not stop walking to rest in the shade. The desert was too full of things his size or bigger, all alive, all slithering.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

The Long Hike

There were beautiful hiking trails in Joshua Tree National Park. The little horse started off at a quick trot, but he soon grew thirsty and tired. He had to watch carefully on every side. All the plants seemed to be filled with prickers. He wished there was something he could eat, but everything was spiny, pointed, jagged, or sharp. Carefully the little horse stepped into the shade of a thorny plant to rest. He had the eerie feeling that he was not alone. He pricked his ears, held his tail high, and looked to both sides. He saw a yellow eye blink at him. A black forked tongue slipped in and out of a mouth. It was a dinosaur! At least it looked like a dinosaur. Four hulking legs, a long spiny-looking tail, the lizard was almost as long as the little horse. Very slowly the little horse backed out of the shade, never taking his eyes off the lizard.

Then something wrapped itself around the little horse’s leg. He leaped into the air and turned around in mid-flight. Another lizard sat sunning itself. The little horse forgot about needing a rest. He took off down the trail at a gallop!

Friday, March 16, 2007

The Adventure Begins

The drive to Joshua Tree National Park was long. The little horse napped in the car. But his ears pricked up once the car stopped and he could get out to stretch his legs. All the ground was barren and rocky, with prickly brown grass and even pricklier cacti. He had promised his sister, Bel Canto, that he would observe everything carefully so that he could tell her what he saw. He even painted the scenery in his little sketchbook. It had a pink cover.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The Little Horse in California

Lou and Pete did not come on this trip. The little horse was pretty much on his own. The plane ride was uneventful. The hotel was like any hotel, only fancy. The little horse kept his ears pricked, held his tail high. He looked to each side. And everywhere he looked outdoors he saw birds—ducks, swans, geese, coots, doves, and in the front of the hotel, pink flamingos. He had never seen pink flamingos before. They stood on one leg, with the other leg tucked up underneath them. The little horse tried to tuck three of his legs underneath him, but he fell down every time. The flamingos started to laugh at him. Feeling embarrassed and silly, the little horse scampered off to find his room.

In the morning, the little horse went downstairs for breakfast. He ate lots of fresh fruit and tasted a little of the coffee. He wanted to be alert and full of energy. Today he was going to explore the Joshua Tree desert!

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

The Little Horse Prepares for a New Adventure

California was not exactly a foreign land, but it was a long way away from the bookshelf. And it was a different kind of environment. The little horse excitedly prepared to leave his home once again. Bel Canto, his sister, was sad to see him leave, but he promised to bring her back stories of his adventures. Maybe sometime in the future she too, could travel. The little horse said goodby to his mother and father and all his friends on the bookshelf. He ventured out to the top of the stairs, ready to seek his fortune. He felt the lure of far-away places, or new vistas. The au pair shook her head. She did not approve of such independence in someone so young. "Nothing good can come of it," she grumbled, but the little horse was determined to go.