Three intrepid explorers had found safe passage into the hay field yesterday, so when everyone was safely back in the front field, where the hay bales are set out, I needed to go down the steepest part of the hill to the opening between the pond pasture and the front field to fix it closed. When that happy event occurred, in the car with me was Two-Faced, the next cat to face going alone to the vet's for shots, so she is learning to travel up and down the driveway to the mailbox without getting upset. Instead of taking the more traveled Spelunker or a crate along, she is hand-carried to the car, then turned loose inside without the security of a crate to crawl into and howl from... However, she has under the seats, or under the feed sack I keep on the back seat to protect the leather from messy cargo, if she is desperate for a place to hide. I was heartened when she chose my lap, which gives her warmth and reassurance coupled with the ability to look out.
Yesterday, she was in a panic from the instant that I stepped through the door onto the porch until I reached the safety of the enclosed car. Once inside, she settled down on my lap without vocalizing and rode with great aplomb down the driveway. When I opened the driver's window to retrieve the mail, she tried to climb out into the huge mailbox... but a hand on her chest quieted her.
Today she lay relaxed in my arms as we exited the house, gazing regally down at the wild cats who came out to see if I were carrying something edible... She was again content in my lap on the trip down, but got upset by a passing tractor and began to pant, wild eyed. I soothed her, holding her gently in my lap, opening all four windows a crack, being very careful not to make openings Two-Faced could climb through.. Once she'd settled again and we'd collected the mail, I doubled the length of the trip by driving on up the road to see how many mares were still in the front field.
Reaching the magic number of ten, I reversed in an abandoned gateway, returned to the mailbox, then headed up the driveway. Instead of parking, I turned into the pasture behind the trailer, generally a place I'd only go with the truck, which, alas, is still in Raleigh. We drug bottom coming off the mound of new dirt, but otherwise, we got close enough.
When JW brought Two-Faced to me, he had cautioned me to be careful, as she was expert at slipping through doors. She'd stopped doing that around the house, so I did not expect her to do it in the car when it was out in the pasture. She bolted so fast that I was not sure she was gone at first. I had to walk around the car, peeking at the floorboards from all angles, to be sure she had left. Finally, I set off down the steepest part of the hill toward the gate, turning back to see if I could check underneath the car without risking my knees, which had an ordeal to get through in front of them. Although I quickly reached the right level, poor eyesight, darkness underneath the vehicle, and vegetation thwarted that plan. I turned back, heading carefully over the heavy erosion toward the gate, pretty much on the same level of the hill.
Hearing a cry, I turned to see Two-Faced come out from under the car, calling and starting over toward me, but she could not handle all that big open space. As I climbed back up to the level of the car, talking reassuringly to her, she bolted about 12-15 feet from the vehicle. First she tried to crawl into a head-sized cavity on the front end of the car, then gave up and again took up residence underneath, answering me, but not willing to emerge. I thought about opening the car door to let her back into its sanctuary, but I was afraid the noise would scare her further. Keeping up a cheerful stream of chatter, I reversed direction and tramped on down to the creek, worrying mentally about how I was going to pull out without running her over... I was pretty sure the sound of the engine firing from underneath would be pretty unnerving for her...
My knees shook and trembled as I negotiated the descent to the creek bed. The herd of mares, spotting me in an unexpected place, rushed over to the edge of the creek, where they paused. The bank on their side was steep and wet, so they lined up, but did not descend, being content to listen to my chatter, ears pricked. I tried to hurry, but the ground was too rough, the hill too steep, my knees too shaky.
Leche started forward. I waved my arms over my head and shouted, "Woosh, woosh," to shoo her away. Instead of retreating, she stared at me in astonishment. She KNEW if she came to me, she would be petted. Praise the mud. She thought better of sliding into the creek, preparatory to crossing..
Reaching the bottom of the hill, I picked up my pace a bit until I reached the long piece of the gate, which was swung inward. The short piece had swung out toward the creek, blocking the strip of grass behind it from the hungry mares and serving as a funnel into the pasture, which I needed to keep them off of until June, or so. Holding the chain of the long gate, I tried to reach the short piece -- no dice. Blocking the long gate from swinging out over the creek with a huge chunk of the rip rap we'd dumped into the gateway, a top erosion site, years ago to offer a bed to hold soil with, I was able to keep the long gate semi-in place while I got the shorter piece corralled. Figuring I could leave the long gate in place and bring the short piece even with it, I discovered a sapling in the road. Rolling the rip rap back painfully, I securely fastened the gates. I thought about walking the fence line, but the screaming coming from my knees dissuaded me. Ponderously, I began the assent to the gateway that led to the car.
I used to love to walk all over my land, enjoying the sights, sounds and smells of the country, the peacefulness of its setting, the charm of being in nature. I resented that now that I had the time, pain prevented me from indulging in my former revels. I've been walking more since I retired, driving down the hill to the level ground between the two huge hills on the paved road, and my range had increased, the pain decreased, the stride increased in length for longer and longer periods. It dismayed me to discover that I had achieved a false sense of progress, one that vanished instantly when applied in the field...
When I used to try to walk up the hilly driveway from the mail box, I carried along a five gallon plastic pail. I would set out, walk to exhaustion, invert the pail and park until I came back to life, then continue. I realized quite quickly that I should have brought both sun glasses and the blue pail on this excursion. The morning overcast I'd set out in was now replaced by beauteous sunlight. I remember it clearing some time during our trip up the road to count the mares. I hadn't paid any attention at the time. Before setting out into the field, I should have ducked back inside for the shades.
People in their prime, in top physical condition, still will be puffing by the time they attain the top of the pasture hill. I stopped frequently, leaning my head against the boards of the fence. Eventually, I reached the gate. The knees that merely ached on the downward journey throbbed now. When I regained the car, I knew I would NOT be able to get down to coax Two-Faced out. I worried at the problem the entire trip up the hill, concocting and discarding plan after plan.
Not to worry. Once I had collapsed into the car, I left the door open and called. Two-Faced popped out from underneath and put her front feet on the edge of the door, begging me to pick her up and protect her from the great out-of-doors. Her coat was filthy from the underside of the car, but I hugged her anyway -- white t-shirt and all. As we bumped across the pasture, she relaxed, settling into my lap trustingly.
Tomorrow, she'll go with me again to the mail box...
I also need to write down the repairs I need to accomplish when/if the boys really do show up in May. If I get a chain saw, that tree in the gateway is a goner. I love trees, but in their proper places, not the middle of gateways...