Catherine - Assateague Island is where the pony in the story Misty of Chincoteague, and the other Misty series of books written in 1947 by Marguerite Henry, was born. I had read this series more than once as a child and seeing the wild ponies brought back some very fond memories. Life got even better when we arrived at Grayson Highlands National Park to see Shetland Ponies for two reasons. One, because we had not planned to see any more ponies and two, it reminded me of the delightful cartoons about Shetland ponies drawn by Norman Thelwell.
When I was a child I took riding lessons twice a week with Carolyn Horton across the street from my elementary school. I would have been somewhere between grades four and seven. My girlfriends Holly and Donna also had ponies. My pony wasn’t my pony, he was Carolyn’s pony but I dreamed he was my pony. Alegrius Aaron, Aaron for short was a dapple bay welsh pony with cute little white socks and a white blaze down his nose.
Every year I would go in to the Cobble Hill Fall Fair horse show. That was the main event of the year for Aaron and me. I remember one year winning a ribbon, but the event was judged on the horse, not the rider so I didn’t get to keep the ribbon. Carolyn did. That is one of the disadvantages of not owning the horse. There is also a lack of freedom to just get up and ride whenever you want. My parents focussed on the advantages of not owning a pony. Horses are expensive; require gear, property, vet visits and constant care. We agreed to disagree around pony ownership.
I love riding horses and enjoy their gentle disposition. Seeing wild ponies brought a whole new respect and understanding of the conflicts in life everything is facing. These horses are free but not as free as one would hope. Humans get to close, wanting to pet and feed the horses, creating a dichotomy of wild with tame. They have no natural predators therefore culling or birth control are required. Seeing ponies out in the wild, reminds me of our inner wild nature and the need to be free and release ourselves from a world created out of expectations: Expectations of success, growth, love, health and wealth. Sometimes we all need a little less tame and a little more wild.
Kathryn - We are now six months in to our year long trek around the United States and Canada, half way. For me one of the biggest benefits has been the learning we have done along the way. As we age it seems to become more difficult to pick up and learn something new. It is simply easier to go with what you know.
Before we left on the trip Catherine bought a fancy new camera. At first she didn’t know how to work the thing at all and the photos which came ‘off the roll’ were mostly horrific. In the beginning she would be lucky to get even a couple of good shots. Six months later she is clearly more comfortable with the camera. Now when she shoots, only a few of her photos are terrible, most are good, and a few are really fantastic.
Narnia our Siamese cat has learned to embrace walking on a leash. She trots along the path as if it was made for her. Sometimes we overestimate how much she can do forgetting that she is fifteen or “geriatric” as the vet said. Narnia’s favourite part of every hike appears to be tick check at the end of the trail.
I have learnt so many things over the past six months, like how long I can go without a shower and how long Catherine thinks I can go without a shower. But one of the hardest things I’ve learnt is how to confidently drive the motor home. I have passed through harrowing, narrow tunnels with semi-trucks coming in the opposite direction. I have driven over long stretches of windy ocean bridges. I have snaked my way down treacherous mountain roads. I have merged onto an interstate at 70 mph between oversize loads. Although I am comfortable driving now, I know there will still be hair raising experiences and white knuckle rides, that’s all part of the experience.