BY JONI TAKANIKOS, April 12, 2013
In these perilous times of shifting lands, both here on our tiny dragon shaped island, and further afield on this blue and watery planet floating in the galaxy, one wandering minstrel among the countless is here to give you a brief check in.
Since embarking on my present situation as a wanderer (mostly by choice thank the heavens) I often find myself house-sitting for dear friends. I appreciate these roofs and sometimes the attached menageries, large and small. Because I am in the houses of close friends, it is not unfamiliar territory, and it is beloved to me, because of the relationships it contains. And it does allow me the space to peruse the books, roll out my yoga mat with a cat, a dog or both at my side amid the altars, the relatives — some here, some gone, some known and unknown — to practice finding my roots as a rolling stone. Grateful for shelter; for friends and their animal colleagues.
Recently I was caretaking the house of some old friends who were away in far-off lands. Their lovely house and property is also home to two horses, a barn cat, a sheep, a goat, seven chickens and two dogs. They also have a wonderful garden and a greenhouse that houses an actual Meyer lemon tree.
One of the horses is older and does not have her teeth, so she requires special food soaked and soft for her older, horsey mouth. Other than that, she is quite beautiful, and will sometimes break into a gallop across the pasture. She is also patient and sweet. I find myself relating to her situation, being older and still willing to gallop occasionally, and I have had more than my share of dental procedures, which sometimes has necessitated the need for soft foods.
The other horse is really a pony and, as I now have learned, ponies can be mischievous. It’s required that his hay be wet to avoid him developing a cough. But early on in my stay, I would find him outside his pasture, just wandering around the grounds and perfectly at home, of course. His fence is electrified, and a neighbor and I, who walked the fence line, really could not figure out how he was getting out. One morning after I had finished feeding the old girl in her stall, I stepped into the pasture with the young pony’s hay. I stood with the hose in hand, wetting down the hay, when up the long drive he came trotting and viewed me from the opposite side of the electric fence. Having lost my patience at yet another escape I said, “OK, if you want your breakfast, come and get it. Since you got out, you can find your way in.”
I turned to continue wetting down the hay, and when I turned around one second later there he was, like a ghost-horse having materialized in front of me. I laughed, left him to his breakfast and went to have mine.
He stayed put in his pasture for the next few days, but again the scenario repeated itself. Except this time, I was determined to see how he managed to slip through the fence so quickly. So I laid down the challenge of “come and get it,” and watched him take a short run at the fence. As graceful as an Olympic diver, he dove under the fence just barely brushing the electric current, but I noticed his coat did stand up a bit.
In these days of “nothing is quite as it seems,” I was recently given some very good advice from a close friend. If you find yourself having anxiety over some situation, ask yourself if it is life threatening. If it is not, take a deep breath and be grateful. So, although the trickster horse tested my patience a little, he always came back to me.
I have spent some time contemplating the wandering horse in all of us and am including a poem I wrote for my son Max when he was 9 years old. Max recently turned 22 and seems to have learned enough about the world to stay unbridled and free in any pasture he finds himself in, and yet still occasionally comes back to sit for a meal with his mom.
You hold my hand,
Soft and strong,
You yield sweetness
Like afternoon sun
On the yellow center
Of a black pansy,
Your favorite flower.
Stay near me,
Family, a cluster
Yellow and black striped
Buzzing hornets can not
Our honeyed hive
Is near the field,
Where tame horses
Lie down in the afternoon.
But some complacent midday,
A catastrophe unknown
To us now,
Will kick up your hooves
In the dirt,
Communications will lie fallow,
Oblique and pale you will not
Hear my words,
Hold my hand.
Instead you will buck and run,
Shaking as you jump the fence
To find your own green fields.
I will sit under the dusky sun,
Remember your soft yielding hand,
And watch the sun reflected
Off the yellow center of black pansies.
Joni Takanikos is a poet, chanteuse and cartographer of Truth and Beauty. Her home realm is Whidbey Island, but in recent years she has begun an exploration of other lands which is a grand and exhilarating adventure in the ” there and back again” style.
Joni Takanikos will sing and play her guitar, and read some poetry in honor of National Poetry Month at “Friday Night Live” from 7 to 9 p.m. tonight at the South Whidbey Commons Coffeehouse in downtown Langley.