Nearly every day, I drive past a meadow where four elderly horses live.
Rain or shine, snow or fog, the horses are always somewhere in that meadow. I’ve spotted them through my car’s headlights at night, and I’ve seen them through the mists of dawn. In the winter, I see them standing stoically in the cold, even when the snowflakes swirl around them. In the summer, my view of them is slightly hazy, as the field is covered in yellow wildflowers, lending a soft warm glow to the meadow. I presume that they go inside their barn sometimes, but I couldn’t tell you when.
When I first moved here (almost exactly six years ago–happy anniversary to me!) to Nashville, six horses grazed in the meadow: three white and three brown, like a matched set of children’s toy horses. With swayed backs and the outline of ribs beginning to poke through their sides, their best days and years were behind them. They truly were horses that had been put out to pasture.
My toddler son and I started greeting them with a cheery “Hi, Horses!” every time we drove by the field. We still do. We look for them every time we drive by, and I feel like I’ve forgotten to do something important if I don’t say hello to them. Not that they can hear us, but for some reason, it matters to me.
Over the years, two of the horses died. I spotted one of the white horses lying down in the field–not altogether unusual, but this time, there were people out in the field around the horse, not just the other horses. The white horse was taken away, and then there were five. Later, one of the brown horses passed away, but I don’t know how or when, exactly. I just noticed that there were only four horses: two white and two brown. Like a children’s playset…but smaller.
When the entire area that included their meadow flooded during Nashville’s epic 2010 flood, I worried about them. Were they all okay? Had their owners rescued them in time, before the waters covered their field? Where were they? Would they be back? Would they even be able to return to their field?
The floodwaters receded. Soon, the horses were back from where ever they’d gone. The yellow wildflowers bloomed again. My younger son learned to say “Hi Horses!” from his carseat behind the driver’s seat.
And yet, I’ve never once pulled over and parked my car in the driveway near the meadow. I’ve never once gotten out to go see the horses up close. I don’t even know their names. They’re just part of my landscape, and I expect them to be there.
How many things in our lives do we take for granted because they’re always there–or always seem to be there? How many things are we missing out on because we believe they’ll always be there? If I’ve never stopped to visit these horses that I claim to worry about so much, what else am I also taking for granted?