The photo on our cover this month could have been taken a half block from my house, on the lone remaining farm in the neighborhood. It's one of the places my dog and I always include on our morning rounds. Last winter at exactly this time of year, I began my morning there being kissed by a horse.
A perfect, snow-laden dawn, barely light and everything the color of doves and smoke, four horses pressed against my neighbor's fence, steaming and stamping, their coats covered by a light rime of snow. The broad brown one pushed his big face over the ice-coated wires and flared his nostrils, seeking more information about this blue-coated stranger at the fence-line. Bob Dog bounced through the new-fallen snow, part rabbit, part puppy, blissfully unaware that he is old and blind.
I was in a hurry, sure to be late for work if I lingered. But the horse whickered and tossed his furry chin in my direction, horse for 'Come over here so I can get to know you,' and once again, I was a goner. For certain parts of life, I have no resistance, regardless of how many clocks might be ticking in the background. Beautiful, snowy, horse-filled dawns count.
As I sidled up to the fence and began scratching the big boy's ears, he put his surprisingly downy mouth on my cheek and gently brushed back and forth, a horse kiss if ever I've felt one. I blew gently in his nostrils, happy to know he didn't much mind the coffee breath. He inhaled deeply and pressed against the fence, nuzzling my face again with that great, fuzzy nose.
The other three horses crowded around, wanting their turn, but he placed himself sideways between them and me, leaning his head down this time for a scratch. I obliged, laughing at his audaciousness.
By now the farm dog had come to take her place, nose stuck through the rectangles in the wire fence, also ready for a greeting. Bob bounced around, inviting her to come through the fence and frolic with him.
I could have stayed all day, letting the horses whisper, the dogs scamper and the snow drift silently down. But the neighborhood was starting to stir around me, so I gave the big boy a final chin-chuck, and got another quick kiss nuzzle in return.
I backed away from the fence, reluctant to let go of the sight. The horses leaned against each other, watching me with huge, calm eyes. Breathing deeply of horse smell and dawn, I turned for home hearing, faintly, the ticking of the clock.
Have a blessed day!