Holli Bragg-050411Listen to What's on my Mind with Holli Deal Bragg - Trail ride down Memory Lane
The sweet scent of honeysuckle tickled my nose as I ducked under a tree limb. I relaxed to the sway of ol' BJ's easy stride as we meandered around pine trees, over fallen logs, across fire breaks and over small hills.
I had not been in these woods for 37 years, not since I rode with Granddaddy Deal in his old truck to feed the cows. He ran cows in the pine woods near his old farm house, and we kids loved riding along, pushing the big white horn button on the dash, calling the cows to come feed.
All around those woods, houses have been built, crowded subdivisions and concrete where we once hunted Easter eggs, picked figs, drank water from the garden hose beside Granddaddy's shed and stole eggs out from underneath hen's bottoms in the chicken house.
That was then, and this was now. I was one of a bunch of riders at Harold Aldrich's Spring Trail Ride, enjoying a breezy spring day on horseback, leaving hoofprints and memories where once I had left footprints and other memories.
Part of my childhood was spent not many miles from Harold's home on Harville Road. Dad grew up maybe a mile from the Aldrich farm, and the landscape has long been familiar to me. There is a pine on the Aldrich farm that stands much taller than the rest, and I know for a fact it has been there way longer than my 43 years.
My friend Nancy and I weren't able to ride Saturday, but we pulled up Sunday with Ghost and BJ, ready to ride. On the last ride at Harold's we took a different route. It was a pleasant surprise this time when we took off towards the other side of the road. I smiled as I realized where we were going.
We rode around the edge of the corn field behind Cousin Josh's House, a grayed and weathered old plank structure. We crossed Josh Deal Road and entered the woods, and it was like the years melted away. I could smell the pines and the cows and hear Granddaddy's voice as he told us how to call them in for feeding.
Harold reined his big blue roan gelding in as I caught up, so he could remind me this was Granddaddy's old farm land. I imagine he has some memories and left plenty of footprints on that land as well, because he and his brothers were good friends with my Dad and HIS brothers.
That's something that time, nor events, can ever change. Memories are forever in our hearts, no matter how many fancy houses, crowded subdivisions, or concrete pads and driveways come around.
BJ seemed to enjoy himself as we browsed around those woods. I was on the phone with my Mom for a minute, calling to tell her where I was, because she has plenty of memories left behind in those woods herself. She jokingly told me to look for the tree where she carved her and my Dad's initials, but I never found it.
It was during that brief conversation with Mom that BJ stepped into a bog hole, the silly rascal. At least he did not lie down to roll with me like Ghost did Nancy. I heard her holler, looked over and the big gray Thoroughbred gelding was flat on his side, Nancy's leg underneath. It was a good thing we were in a soft, recently plowed field, or she could have been hurt. As it were, we all had a good laugh.
It had been way too long since I saddled up and spent time in the woods. If someone could bottle the essence of a trail ride through beautiful, wild land, it would outsell Prozac. I closed my eyes and breathed in the peace and nature as BJ's easy gait rocked me into relaxation.
The arrival back at camp came too early, but it was fun to meet new people, talk about new horses, and watch as Harold gave an impromptu lesson on barrel racing. I enjoyed getting to know his lady friend Marsha and feel as if I've made some new "horse friends" after the adventure.
There is nothing like being on the back of a horse, out in God's creation. There is nothing like being with like-minded people whose morals and values and spirits are kin to your own.
Thanks, Harold and Marsha, for a great time and for the trial ride down Memory Lane. See ya next ride.
Holli Deal Bragg may be reached at (912) 489-9414.