Saturday, March 15, 2008

The Little Horse Hits the Trail

The little horse woke bright and early the next morning. He was raring to go. But he had to wait while Cailtin and Kristen and all the other cousins made steak sandwiches and packed cheese and crackers and peanut butter and gorp and candy bars and grapes and water bottles and on and on. The little horse stamped his hoof. Why can’t they eat on the trail, like me? he wondered.

At last Caitlin swooped him up and put him on her shoulder. The little horse and all the loaded backpacks were carried to the car. The little horse found himself tucked into a side pocket of a red pack and stuffed in the back of a van and they were off! The actual packing and driving were not quite as exciting as he had hoped, but he was committed now. There was no turning back. They were driving north to the base of Mount Webster.

The little horse settled into the pocket of the backpack. He tried to nap, but he could hear the excited laughter of the cousins as they drove. This was Caitlin’s and Kristen’s first overnight climb. “Well, it’s my first, too,” thought the little horse, “but you don’t hear me making such a racket.”

Monday, March 10, 2008

The Little Horse Says Goodbye to the Bookshelf

For a few days the little horse seemed to change. He seemed content with the quiet life on the bookshelf. He even studied his French lessons. Bel began to hope that he had gotten over his urge to travel. But she was wrong.

One morning the little horse went from nose to nose, nuzzling his father, his mother, the pinto pony, even the au pair. He came to Bel last. “Good bye, Bel,” he wickered. “I’m leaving for New Hampshire. I’m traveling in a backpack once more. In three days I will be at the Red House. I’ll miss you.”

Bel’s heart sank. She heard his words, but she could tell that this was not just “good bye for now.” Her big brown eyes grew moist. “I wanted you to wait for me to be old enough to travel with you.”

“You know mother won’t let you travel on your own. I can’t wait any longer. I am off, off, off! I can’t wait to taste wild blue berries, sphagnum moss, reindeer lichen. I’m going on the big climb with Kristen and Caitlin. Back to the mountains! Good bye! Good bye!”

For three days the little horse lived in a backpack and traveled in a car. At last they reached the Red House. There were Caitlin and Kristen. There were all the other cousins. Soon everyone was busy packing for the big climb. Even the little horse had to carry his own blanket and feed dish. Tomorrow they would leave for the mountains and the big climb. Tomorrow his biggest adventure ever would begin. The little horse spent the night sleeping on top of the backpacks. He did not want to be left behind in all the excitement.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

The Little Horse Rebels

The little horse had a bug in his ear. He talked every day about the mountains of New Hampshire, the wonderful vistas, the sweet smell of the woods, the taste of wild blue berries and cold mountain streams, the soft pine-needle-covered trails. He wanted to scramble over the granite crags. To feel the wind in his mane and tail.

“But you only just got home,” wailed Bel Canto. “It’s so lonely here when you are gone. And the au pair makes me study twice as hard. She makes me study for two.”

“You can play with the pinto pony, “ said the little horse.

“He’s always napping,” Bel said.

“Well, I can’t stay here on the shelf,” insisted the little horse. “I’ll go mad.”

“Don’t be dramatic,” chided the au pair.

“See what I mean?” he whispered to Bel. “I can’t even say what I think without somebody sticking her long nose where it’s none of her business.” Bel was shocked by how rude the little horse was being.

The little horse became more and more unruly. “I can’t do anything with him,” complained the au pair to his mother. “He just rolls his eyes at me whenever I chastise him. He is unteachable. He reads the most inappropriate books and when I suggest he attend to his lessons he stalks off to the other end of the bookshelf. He won’t even study his French!”

“I’m afraid he is breaking free of this sedentary life,” his mother answered. “I had hoped that a trip to France would put an end to his wanderlust, but it seems to have made it worse. Our little horse is growing up. He wants to seek his fortune.”

The au pair shook her head. “Some little horses should be grateful that they do not need to seek their fortunes. There are big bad wolves in the world still. And this little horse is the type who would build a house of straw and think himself safe.”

Bel Canto listened to this conversation with growing concern. She trotted across the bookshelf to where the little horse stood, next to the waving kitty.

“Promise me,” she said, “that you won’t leave me alone on this shelf again.”

The little horse looked at Bel with his large dark eyes. He blew warm air out of his wide nostrils. “I can’t promise that,” he told her. “I have to go to the mountains in New Hampshire.”

Bel’s ears went limp. Her nose drooped to the ground. She dragged her hooves as she slowly walked back to the other side of the shelf where the au pair was waiting to review her lessons. “Don’t pay him any mind,” the au pair huffed. “He’s just jockeying for attention. Bel did not reply, but she did not think the au pair was right.