When I was a kid, I had a big beautiful, creamy Palomino Quarter horse that I was crazy about. I would ride everyday and spent more time at the ranch, than I did my home. Looking back I guess it was my home. I knew everyone and their horse. I knew every dog, cat, goat and every now an then, a rat or two. Having a horse was my ticket to freedom and in the mind of a young girl, I truly believed he could read my mind. In the pastures, I would often ride without a saddle or bridle. Out side of the ranch though, I had to use a bridle. I couldn’t chance the ESP connection breaking right next to the highway. On most days, we would explore in every direction and for miles.
Across the road, there was a very poor, shanty neighborhood where I loved to ride. It was a place where dense ancient oaks, arched over decrepit one room wooden houses. Where women could be heard cooking in the back, and children would run up to my horse but were too afraid to touch him. Where the old men would sit on the patio, laughing and talking and smoking. There were fields of corn and sometimes fields of wild black berry bushes, thick with enormous berries.
I used to wrap my horses legs and go to the middle of those blackberry fields and gorge myself with berries until my hands and clothes were stained red. Then one time, I saw in the sandy road along one of these berry fields, a snake trail that was easily 5 inches wide. Amos (I’ll have to tell you about him later) told me a rattler made that trail and that it was probably a 7 footer. I have seen a 6 foot rattler, so I knew it could be true. To prove to myself that I wasn’t scared though, I went into the patch one more time, but I was so uncomfortable, it became my last.
I have wonderful, rich, funny, sad and scary stories from riding there. When I have more time and if it’s not too boring for you, I’ll tell you about how we got shot at while in the corn field, about how my horse startled and went racing through the baseball game and almost took out the second baseman, about the falling down convenience store in the middle of the road, the card games and cigars, the old men who kept their gaze down and away from a white girl, the women who offered me fresh ocra or corn from their gardens, the rides I gave to the children, the areas more colorful characters and of course my friend, Amos Moses.