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Girlfriend

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Christine Tailer

By Christine Tailer
HCP columnist

The term is an odd one. I am hardly a girl any more. My hair really has become quite gray, though I do suppose that we are girlfriends after all, through thick and thin, all the way to the very end. For you see, we both know, without any doubt at all, that there's something verging on magical with regard to our relationship.

And so, the other day, when she looked at me with an unspoken request, I knew that I would oblige, and I knew that she was right. When worry seems to furrow my brow, and when my thoughts repeatedly circle around to nowhere, then I know that it’s time for me to go for a walk along the creek. She had that spiraling, worried look in her eye. I could tell that she needed to walk, maybe not to talk, but to simply to walk along the creek, stepping across the rocks beside the sparkling water.

I went over to her and inquired "What would you think about heading on down to the creek?"

Her ears perked right up. She nickered and stepped over to my side, leaning in hard into my hip. I easily slid the halter over her head, and with a swish of her tail we were through the gate and off for some quality girl time. I had decided that I would follow her lead.

The sky overhead was a crisp clear blue. There was not a cloud in sight. The chill air nipped at my nose, but my thick chore jacket kept me warm. I looked over at my girlfriend. She was also warmly dressed, having just put on her winter coat. I envied her style. Her thick coat was a deep burnt orange that perfectly complemented her ever so blond mane and tail. I could feel her gait quicken as she trotted along the road. Her spirits were already lifting.

We walked along briskly, her hooves clip-pity-clopping a crisp, light rhythm. For some unknown reason, a lilting tune drifted across my mind, and I began to sing a song that my grandmother had taught me when I was a little girl. It was about a fellow named Buckeye Jim. I well remembered the lyrics, whose roots go far back in time.

"Way up yonder above the sky
A bluebird lived in a jaybird's eye
Buckeye Jim, you can't go
Go weave and spin, you can't go
Buckeye Jim

Way up yonder above the moon
A blue jay nests in a silver spoon
Buckeye Jim, you can't go
Go weave and spin, you can't go
Buckeye Jim

Way down yonder in a hollow log
A red bird danced with a green bullfrog
Buckeye Jim, you can't go
Go weave and spin, you can't go
Buckeye Jim."

And then we were at the creek.

I thought that she might carefully pick her path down to the clear flowing water, but no. She stepped right out into the rocks, as though she knew exactly where she was headed. I unbuckled her lead and followed along behind. She occasionally stopped to paw with her forefoot at a rock here or a rock there. 

She drank up some of the clear water at the creek’s edge, and then, with a shake of her mane, she settled down to some fine foraging of the lush green grass that still grew along the shore. Her tail swished lazily. Her ears parted comfortably, and she was content. I sat, quietly watching from my perch on a large rock, and then it occurred to me.

The song Buckeye Jim, that had somehow come into my mind, really was the perfect song for the day. It's a song about some of the different kinds of birds that live in the woods, a blue bird, a red bird, and a jay, but no matter how much Buckeye Jim might "weave and spin" he simply could not go where the birds go, just like my dear girlfriend has been shut sadly in her paddock. It is indeed, a lovely paddock, but still, she is quite shut in. She cannot go where she chooses, but today she could, and today she was ever so content.

I looked over at my dear little filly. Knowing her, she could easily eat until the sun set, and then, knowing her, she could easily keep right on eating. In time, I rose from my rock and snapped the lead back onto her halter. She gently turned, seeming to understand, and walked right by my side as we climbed back up the bank to the valley road. There was a definite lilt to her step as we headed back to the paddock.

On our way down the road, I sang Buckeye Jim’s song, keeping time with the beat of her clip-pity-clop. Yes indeed. My girlfriend and I had woven and spun, and yes indeed, unlike Buckeye Jim, we did go ... for a beautifully free walk along the creek.

Christine Tailer is an attorney and former city dweller who moved several years ago, with her husband, Greg, to an off-grid farm in Ohio south-central Ohio. Visit them on the web at straightcreekvalleyfarm.com. 

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