To Run With The Band

The first sweet breeze of dawn breathes softly on the grasses that are drenched with early morning dew. The sun whispers shyly through the horizon and touches the sky with the deep, light blue of a robin’s egg. As the golden light heralds its greeting, two large brown eyes open. A great dark head raises itself into the mist and two puffs of chilling air appear and fade away on the current. The two nostrils inhale and exhale the aromas of the new day. A shadow in the pale blue, the dark shape gathers itself to its legs, shakes its mane and gives a mighty yawn showing two rows of strong well set teeth. As I lay in the middle of the cluster of sleeping bodies, I watch the lead stallion of our band awaken.
I have always found it interesting that there are so many sounds in this wide world but one. Wings flapping, thunder roaring or a rock rolling, but the sound of eyes opening are always silent. I watch with my silent eyes, the lead stallion look out over his dozing flock, blink that all is well, and begins to graze. His yellowed teeth quietly rip the green shoots as his ears swivel this way and that to hear the sounds of the other creatures wakening.
A mare snorts nearby me and shakes her head to clear away any bad dreams. As if her snort was an alarm call, a few heads raise in half slumber. They too, clear away bad dreams and omens that may have passed through in the night. As the sun brings more and more light to the skies, the full bodies of my band are clearly seen. They too, yawn mightily and stretch. Amidst the rustle of flattened grasses and soft knickers of good morning, the only other sound that breaks the early morning silence is the suckling of the foals eagerly standing on wobbling legs with little mouths puckered toward their mother’s stomachs. At those gentle sounds, I roll onto my back and let the sun’s heat warm my full swelled breasts. Feeling the teats erected, I smile. I do hope and pray that one of these summers, I will have a foal of my own; A foal of my own heart, to nurse my young in the glory of the dawn. But as I stare down at my two legs before me with a foot, not a hoof, at the end of each, a stone drops in my chest. I am not a horse. I am not a mare. Rather a…two legged. And yet, ever since I could remember I had been living with this band. They were my family and they taught me how to survive. They taught me all there is to know about the Maker’s beautiful world. They taught me joy.
I curl up into a ball and bury my face between my knees. As if sensing my disheartenment, my mare mother softly walks up to me and breaths the hot breaths mares normally reserve for foals. I lift my head, look into her whiskered brown eyes, and my heart is light again. She knows I am not exactly the same as the rest but yet, I am one of them. I always will be. My mare mother has been helping me, guiding me, why, she even nursed me! I will always remember the taste of mare’s milk on my tongue. Its sweet richness formed my flesh and bone to easily run with the band. With the combination of my nose and mouth, I breathe back contentedly. I tell her I am all right. Her ears swivel back as if she doesn’t fully quite believe that all is fine. With a quiet snort, like a shrug, she goes back to grazing with her brother. But both she and I know, however, I think about being different often. How can I possibly forget? Yet, you can’t exactly hide your heart from a horse. They see right into your very being.
Soon, I, too, stretch, rise up and graze. But I do not eat grass. Its taste never fully appealed to me. As if I couldn’t guess why! But when I was very young, I have fogged memories of my mare mother nudging me with her large head towards the ground when I was weaned to eat grass like the rest of the band. I remember weeping and pulling the green spokes with my fingers off my tongue. With much desperation, she even tried dropping the plant into my mouth. But I resisted. Eventually, I guess I toddled away and found some fruit on the ground, which I suppose is why I am so fond of it now. The band knows that when it comes to grazing, I must separate from them. It is the way.
After emptying my waste by some mud, I go off by the trees in search of fruit. The sun is near its peak now and the sky is no longer pink and bright blue, but light blue and the birds have begun their daily symphonies. With a breeze that makes the green leaves dance and sing in their branches, I smile. Its freshness rustles my mane picking it up from the ground and making the curls dance and wave. Soon I spy three pears by a tree. Before I can I get to them, I hear a clacking of tiny claws scurrying down the trunk. Within seconds, a black squirrel is sniffing my breakfast but reaches for some walnuts under the yellow treat instead. With a faint nod of my head and a friendly huff of air out of my nose, I greet my fellow early riser and pick up one of the pears. I study the rounded food carefully. Its yellow skin is bright like the sun itself and it is so ripe, as if when the sun began to rise, all three fell from the tree. Closing my eyes, I feel its nutrients and zest for life as it had when it had hung from the tree. Thanking the Maker as I’ve watched my mare mother often do before eating or resting, I sink my teeth into the yellow prize and l let its clear juices run down my chin onto the brown soil below.
After I finish two out of three pears, I hear the familiar whinny my mare mother gives me when she wants me near or cannot seem to find me in the great size of our band. Giving a little trot to my step, I walk out of the trees in time to see my band going eagerly past me with the great brown stallion in the lead. My heart begins to pound in my chest. Because I know what time it is now. Out of all our daily routines we do, this is my favorite one of all. Soon my mare mother is one of the horses to run by me and she whinnies my name again. This time, it is full of excitement and eagerness. With a snort from my nose, and a grin on my face, I run to join her and my band. It is time to dance.
When I was very young, my mare mother knew with my little legs and infancy, I wouldn’t be able to keep up with her herd. So, every time our band moved to a different field or felt like running, she would scoop me up gently with her teeth and place me on her broad brown back. As soon I felt her moving, I immediately gripped her long auburn mane and went sailing on the air. At first, by such great speed, I remember crying, but then, I heard the song of the wind in my ears. I heard the rhythm of my mare mother’s hooves on the ground. I heard the thunder of my new family all around me as they ran swift as lightning to find a new place to graze. Looking all around me, I felt bewildered, but curiously safe. In no time at all, as we flew on the sunlight, my tears turned to laughter. As I grew older and wiser, I knew that I should run with the band like the rest of my family. And so, whenever the herd grazed or rested, when the day was young, like a young foal, I jumped, skipped, and ran around the band, getting my growing legs used to the feel of running long distances. And words cannot describe the joy of running. As an infant, I knew the song of the wind. Now, I was determined to know the song of the earth as well.

Now, I am ready. I am older, older than a yearling and I have done this dance many times. I never tire of it. Running alongside my mare mother, I soon see an open space between her and a stallion. Dashing for it, I am now in the band. And what I see are over twenty heads and eyes in different browns, blacks and whites, rocking forward. In a great cloud of dust and strewn up soil are a race of hooves, moving with the same thunder, with the same rhythm and time. Quickly stomping one foot in front of the other and springing lightly off my toes, I keep in time with them and I am just at the same speed they are. My feet become hooves. With every bouncing thud my feet make on the grass and soil; I feel an ancient and electrified pulse rush through every vein in my body. The soil and leaves around fly up and coat my skin; the earth mother marks me as one of her own. We make a left turn, and the wind wraps his cool fingers around my body and lets my own brown mane fly and sparkle in the noonday sun. My breath comes evenly and smoothly with every stride I take, in and out, in and out. And I inhale the tangy scent of the prospering life around me, know it, bless it within my lungs and give it back to the earth mother. What was this feeling settling upon me like a breeze of warmth? Covering me from head to foot in its invisible bliss? I knew it since I began to run with them. It is the feeling of Freedom. It is the heartbeat of the healthy life all around me. I feel it. The lead stallion feels it. My mare mother feels it. We all feel it. We run with the same song, but we thank in different ways. Different…for so many moments I forget I am different. Letting out a cry of joy that wells deeply from my soul, I toss my head back. Another cry answers my own nearby; one of my herd mates, acknowledges my happiness, shouts out his own, and throws them both into the sky for all to hear.





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