It has always been an interest of mine to consider the nuances involved in my encounters with others, those that are nourishing and even those that are more distasteful for some reason. In recent years, my interest has broadened to include encounters with animals, nature, books, movies and now, online conversations with people who I treasure yet may never meet.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012


It is never easy, getting on with one's own life after the death of a loved one. This fanciful short story was written for a friend after the sudden death of a partner.
 Our fanciful story takes us into a region on Earth that supports life forms requiring the seasonal changes in climate, some variance in temperatures though not in an extreme way. The flat areas of land from the south gradually form gradations of hills and then, as one travels farther north, the hills are larger, becoming southern-level-height mountains. The dips of land between these mountains are called valleys and usually are nestled by rivers, streams and creeks. There is a vast array of flora in these valleys.  Many types of trees provide not only shade to other flora and fauna species but also, go through a mysterious process to create the oxygen that sustains all life forms, including humans. One can find several species of deer and bear and even some wild horses. On any given day of observation, the surrounding forest of trees becomes a highway for chipmunks, skunks, beavers and a vast array of birds, each playing their roles in maintaining the symbiotic relationships amongst all life forms.

    On one fine spring day beneath a canopy of trees located about halfway down a region of mountains, several wild horses had gathered and were patiently munching on sparse grasses. Periodically, each horse would look up expectantly whenever there was the noise of dead wood cracking above them. “What are they waiting for?” wondered one great white owl from his perch above the horses. The reason for their patience in waiting was up near the top of this range. Roma was nearing the mid-time span of her life and had asked her friends to head down to the valley without her. She needed some alone time. None of the other horses had needed any explanation for Roma’s request. The sudden loss of a companion was explanation enough.
    Roma stood quietly on top of a large outcrop, her head raised to catch the caress of a light breeze that blew on this day. With eyes closed, she breathed deeply as the warm rays of the sun soothed the tenseness out of her muscles. Winter has its wonder yet also its trials; more so when sadness due to the loss of a companion in life renders one’s own life energy at a lower ebb. In winter, most animals need to stay active in order to retain warmth and take care of the daily needs for survival. For Roma, it helped that other horses counted on her to carry her part of the load. The other horses understood loss and willingly took on a little extra of the load for Roma whenever sadness got to an overwhelming level.
     Taking a last deep breath, Roma opened her eyes and turned to head down the mountain. Just before entering the first stand of trees, Roma heard a familiar snort amid the rattle of rocks being scattered by hooves. Holding her breath, Roma turned and there before her stood an iridescent vision of beauty. “Sydney,” Roma softly neighed. The iridescent vision that was Sydney stepped towards Roma, enveloping her in the softness of her horse spirit’s glow. Sydney spoke, “My dear Roma, I am here yet not here. I know that it seems so hard to be without my physical presence in your life yet, know that the love that I have for you continues to live in your heart. When the sadness is about to take you under, Roma, breathe deeply so that the tension from loss can be released, making way for my love, deep within your heart, to soothe your spirit. Life seems harsh at times, yet the love that we share with others carries us through the harshness. Love yourself, Roma, and, in so doing, I will know that my love for you continues to flourish.” Sydney neighed softly and then, leaning her iridescent body so that she fully touched Roma, whispered, “You must always remember, Roma, that you are loved. As you leave the forest for the valley, look for the tree near the creek with a special sign from me.” In the next moment, the ephemeral form of Sydney was gone.
     Roma stood still for some moments, taking in the wonder of such a heavenly experience. Instead of staying in the sadness of loss, Roma began to feel more light-hearted and energized. She took one last deep breath and then, snorting and stamping her feet, she reared up into the sky before galloping into the forest. Long before they could see that Roma was near, the horses began to neigh in welcome. They had not heard such an energetic beat from Roma’s hooves in such a long time. As Roma galloped past, the other horses joined her, boisterously making their way towards Dogwood Valley below.
      Nearing the valley, Roma noted that the Dogwood trees were moving into full bloom. Silver Thread Falls was making its pleasant tinkling sound as its water made its way down into the good-sized creek which fed into Dogwood pond. Bees, butterflies and hummingbirds were flitting about, attending to their tasks of pollination. The super highway throughout the surrounding forest in which the horses has just passed was busy as usual. Every living being felt a tinge of exuberance for spring was now here, the hard winter behind them. Down near the pond, a turkey buzzard and a tri-colored heron looked up suddenly as a pounding sound emerged from within the forest. Instead of taking flight, however, they gazed expectantly as a small group of magnificent-looking horses thundered towards the pond. “It’s just Roma and the others, feeling their usual spring oats. I thought that, perhaps, Roma might have less zeal than she had last year,” the buzzard said to the heron. Slowing down, Roma and her friends snorted neighs of welcome to all of the wildlife that had begun to gather around the pond. Everyone was buzzing, cawing, fluttering and noisily grunting in their unique fauna ways, excited because the arrival of Roma signaled the start of Dogwood inhabitants’ spring-time fun.

          A word of explanation needs to be made for our human readers. Fun in the flora and fauna world is much different than fun in the world of humans. In the world of plants, animals and insects, fun times occur whenever each species is carrying out their Purpose as assigned by The Great Creator. To the human species, such tasks might seem mundane and boring yet they are quite satisfying, engaging each species' sense of joyous fun. Suffice it to say that the word, fun, conveys a synchronous sensation since each form of species was doing their part in order to benefit the whole.
    Roma was a unique horse to be sure. As one of the larger-brained life forms, one might think that she would have an air of superiority and condescension about her. There were some horses that did exhibit those types of airs. Roma and those horses that traveled with her, however, were attuned to The Great Creator’s plan, that of symbiosis. If asked, Roma would reply, “Everything in life works best when we each do our part. Each of us has a role to play. Sit back and watch us have fun and satisfyingly work together to get done what needs to be done.”
    Roma veered to the edge of the trees nearest to the creek as her horse companions went to take a long drink from the pond. They had traveled some distance from another mountain valley in order to be in Dogwood on this day. Roma halted, gazing at the special sign left for her by Sydney. She then neighed loudly before lowering her head and pawing the land, expressing the strong surge of sadness that had come on, feeling the loss of Sydney in her life. Snorting and stamping out the sadness, Roma next felt an exhilarating feeling of love burst forth from within. She reared up on her hind legs and neighed loudly in wonder at the fierceness of ever-present love. “The best of Sydney is still with me,” Roma thought.
   Her awareness returned to the present moment so Roma turned around and saw that all of the animals in Dogwood Valley were quietly congregating together, respectful of her need to have a moment alone. It had not gone unnoticed that there was a carved heart in the tree that was closest to the creek. All of the animal and insect species knew that this past season had been particularly hard for Roma. She had lost her ever-present companion, Sydney, to sudden illness. Sadness due to the loss of a companion was accorded the highest respect by the residents in this valley.
    Neighing softly as she stood and gazed around Dogwood Valley, Roma had to acknowledge that the winter had been harsh. Silver Thread Falls was exuding less water than usual because the past few months had been dry. More trees had been felled by earlier storms and the creek and pond were covered with debris. Although everyone knew their roles, it was the habit of Dogwood inhabitants’ to wait for Roma to summarize all the tasks that needed to be done. You see, Roma had an ability to quickly ascertain the most efficient ways for all inhabitants to complete their individual tasks together.
     Roma neighed to everyone, a signal that the fun was about to begin, and began to prance around Dogwood Valley. As she passed through the different areas, she conferred with the other animals and insects, making assignments that were particular to each species. Everyone got into their particular brand of fun. Flying insects got to buzzing around, flitting more happily from flower to flower. Beavers and muskrats were their usual grumpy-seeming selves yet to those who knew them, they were happy doing the muddy job of moving sticks and tree trunks around so that the creek would flow the way that best served them all. The bears helped the beavers with the heavy work while the deer assisted the horses in clearing the valley of dead wood. No one minded when one of the bears took some time to scratch her back on one of the trees. The small birds flew around grabbing onto the smaller bits of debris, using the torn bits of grasses and small twigs for their nests. Larger birds, of course, handled the larger sticks. Water birds stayed busy cleaning up and redistributing the flora that lived on the surface of the pond. Nothing went to waste in Dogwood Valley.
     Roma took a moment from her task of clearing away a large downed tree that would become a shelter of sorts near the south edge of the valley. As the usual sense of sadness began to come on her once again, Roma took some deep breaths and felt instead the warmth of deep love burst from her heart. “Thank you, Sydney, for loving me. Your love for me will not go to waste,” she thought. Roma then neighed out loud with a bit of trilling-like notes, sounding like she was chuckling. “You knew, dear Sydney, that there was no way that I would let anything go to waste!” Roma snorted in laughter, reared up again on her hind legs and then got back to work while the other animals stared at her in wonder. “Why are all of you staring?” said Roma. “Haven’t you ever heard a horse laugh?”






  1. Thank you for sharing this unique and hopeful view of Nature and everyone's designated role in it, Dody. Your story brightened my day. :-)

  2. Another enchanting story - love it!

    Julia Hughes