A low mist hangs across the acres of corn field. Low clouds keep the sun from spreading its amber rays across the pasture. He stands there at the fence, like always, watching. He’s seen mornings like this before. Hundreds of them. Beautiful, he thinks. Perfect for a morning ride. He’s just waiting.
When he was younger, his anxiety was more visible. He would make noise, stomp around, make sure everyone knew he was ready to go. He never understood why it took everyone so much longer to get ready. He woke up ready. Over the many years, he had learned to be a bit more patient, but he never stopped being ready.
Sunday morning rides were an engrained part of his being. He couldn’t remember a time when they didn’t all gather, like clockwork, every Sunday morning. Weather rarely made a difference. Rain? Get the slickers out. Snow? Extra gear and special shoes. Only twice could he remember not having that Sunday morning ride, and those two times had nearly caused him to go crazy. He needed this time.
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Of course, he was up just as early, and sometimes as anxious, during the week. There was work to be done. All this pasture and cattle didn’t take care of itself. Especially the cattle. He stands at the fence and shakes his head as he thinks about how stupid those cows are. He knows those silly bovine would die if he weren’t out there with them every day. They’d run themselves off a cliff, or forget their way back to the barn, or leave half the herd in the wrong field. There were days it seemed as though he did nothing but run circles around those cows.
He hears a noise and looks back toward the house. Girls can be so slow. He loves them, to be sure. Nothing is better than the time he spends with his girls. But, not a one of them seems to be able to tell time. Of course, he always forgives them and greets them with a kiss when they finally do show up. He never has been able to stay angry with them for very long. Any more, they think they’re taking care of him. He laughs, remembering when they were still in training pants.
He gazes out across the pasture and sniffs the air. He knows autumn is on its way. The chill in the air this morning isn’t temporary; it won’t be getting any warmer. Winter will come next, and the very thought sends a shiver through his aging body. Winters are tough on him now. The cold hurts more than it once did. Last winter;s coats hadn’t been sufficient. He wonders now how many more winters he has left in him.
Looking back toward the house, he watches the young woman on her way to join him. He remembers her first ride when she was so small she was strapped in a baby carrier on her mother’s chest. Now, here she is grown, tall, beautiful. He’s happy she still goes on rides with him. So many girls would find other things to do on a Sunday morning. She smiles as she walks toward him.
“You look bright and cheerful this morning!” she calls, half sarcastically. His expression was almost always a somber one. She liked to tease him about needed to smile more.
He nods in reply and takes a few steps toward her.
“Hold on while I get my saddle,” she says. “I promise, it won’t take but a second!” She knows how fussy he gets if she takes too long with her tack. She’s back soon, setting the saddle on the fence. She reaches over and gives him a quick kiss. “You’re looking good this morning,” she says with a smile.
He looks down and tilts his head slightly to the side. He knows he’s old, but like s to think he’s at least still distinguished looking.
She picks up a brush and starts to work. “I’m thinking we take the West trail up through the woods this morning, then circle back around and come back up by the creek. Sun should be totally awake by then.”
He nods in agreement. She knows the trails as well as he does by now, and knows which ones are his favorites. The woods and creek will be full of delightful sounds and smells this morning.
She finishes brushing then picks up the saddle and blanket, putting them on his back. She’s quick and gentle now, much different from the frequent clumsiness she showed as a child. She’s also a lot more gentle, something he really appreciates. Quickly she mounts and takes the reigns in her hand. “Okay, old man, let’s take off and see what you can do this morning.”
He gives her a short whinny and trots off down the trail. “This is what Sundays were made for,” he thinks to himself. “I hope they never change.”