Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Cowboys and Indians

Cowboys and Indians

My sister and I decided we would like to play cowboys and indians on our ponies, well if the truth be known it was  me who decided and forced my long suffering sister and accomplice to take part, probably using a fair bit of coercion and manipulation to get my own way. We arranged with our friends that they would bring their ponies to our home . We lived on about 30 acres of land just outside a small town in the Republic of Ireland . It was one of those rare, stunning summer days in Ireland all the more treasured as they happen so infrequently. I felt that day that I could live forever.

Waiting for my friends to arrive and with not a lot to do I lay back on the short grass in front of the stables. Interlocking my fingers behind my head I gaze up into the spaceless infinity. Gradually the sounds of the day fade and something shifts, for a very short or long  moment I have crystal clarity and everything  stops, locked in a moment of timelessness, I cease to be aware of myself only the comprehension that I am no longer an extra in the landscape but an intrinsic, elemental part of it. My edges blur I neither  know or feel the separation of my body  I only exist expanding ever outwards spinning in the Universe.  Aware yet not aware, curious yet knowing everything, in silence I be suspended between two worlds, thought left far behind. Gradually, gently, slowly, bird song seeps back into my consciousness and I notice the grass under my body. I understand  I have been part of something that I have no name for. Picking myself up from the ground  I walk back to the stable deep in 10 year old thought.

My friends arrive, four of them three girls and a boy. We all get on our ponies and go out through the yard gate I say nothing to any of them. Later on that day, back lying on the grass again, this time in not so comfortable circumstances I was to remember with nostalgia the earlier  grass experience. We had been riding our ponies without saddles because some of us were indians and thats what indians did on the telly . Us indians were hiding in the gorse away from the cowboys who were tracking us . My pony Trixie was startled by a blackbird disturbed by our passing,  suddenly flying from the furze bush, shrieking it's alarm call. Trixie ducked sideways and I pitched ignominiously over his shoulder connecting with all the prickles of the gorse as I fell. On my downward trajectory I  inhale the fragrant  coconut smell  of the furze bush on a hot summer day. I hit the ground and a big sloppy cow path. Shaken but mostly uninjured I sit up ruefully watching Trixie grab his moment of freedom by making a dash for home. I listen to the  thud of hooves on the summer beaten earth fading into the distance.

Gorse in full bloom

Noticing the long stalked grass moving gently in the wind I carefully select one and stick it between by teeth sucking the stalk. Feeling tired, I lie back for a moment in this hidden place basking in the heat, noticing the deep ruts, hardened to cement like consistency,  caused by cattle hooves earlier in the spring.  All around me the yellow flowers of the gorse shower me with their golden scent the field grass feels unforgiving and prickly the ground rough and hard, regretfully I stand up. I was covered all over with tiny pinpricks of blood from the gorse. Later I heard from the others that Trixie came dashing back into the yard covered in the same pinpricks from his crazy bolt through the gorse. Trixie a black and white pony and given to panic attacks , not following the path home took a short cut and looked like someone had taken a  slim red paint brush and painted tiny red dots everywhere from nose to hoof. An hour later I too limped into the yard to the shrieks of laughter from the cowboys who were sitting around the picnic table  eating packs of Tayto and drinking Taylor Keith red lemonade. Pulling apart a crisp bag and inhaling the first whiff of Tayto I take a crisp and feel the sting of the raw saltiness of it on my tongue. I grab a glass of lemonade and glug it in great mouthfuls thirstily sucking the fizz and sweetness of if, noticing the hardness of it sliding down my throat. I lie back sighing with contentment  and immediately the smell of a fresh mown lawn reminds me of the two other occasions  I had laid on the grass on that hot summer day.