I once spent the best part of spring out in the beautiful desserts of New Mexico. There were miles of sand and cacti and pretty bushes, and great mountains that plateau. The mountains were grand and of multi-colored tan, browns, and reds too. There were places that had fields and there were also those that were barren but with scattered foliage. Some of the cacti were tall with bold blooms and others were small and modest. I was very excited to be there in the South West.
I was going to visit a long time pen pal named Jen. Her family lives in Placitas, New Mexico. When I first saw her home, I was taken aback. Jen lived on a ranch where they cared for and bred wild, sick or wounded, and expecting horses. I was thrilled to be there, because back in Virginia, we had a stable too. However, Jen’s home was an authentic Western-style ranch. I listened to Jen’s mother explain all the tasks around the ranch that Jen was expected to do. I decided immediately that I would help her, especially when I heard that one of the ponies there had a broken leg, and a bad eye which was almost healed. I would be helping Jen take care of the horses and apply medicine to the pony’s eye and re-bandage it.
After getting a tour of the ranch, I chose to show Jen some pictures of our land, house, and horses back home. She was in awe just like I had been, when I first saw her home and surroundings. My home in Virginia is a Victorian Style house, my roof had a peak and triangular shape to it; but the homes here in New Mexico were just like the mountains tall and flat-topped. But even with the differences I realized that a home is a home, as long as your family is there.
The next day Jen and I woke up very early; it was very cold as if winter was setting in. Jen then told me that this is how the desert was, blistering hot in the day and frigidly cold at night and in the early morning. I walked over to the stall where the young pony lay; I must have startled her because she snorted sharply once she saw me. Jen came over with a basket of bandages and ointments and eye drops, and put it down beside me, then asked me to help calm the pony. She then told me that they normally do not name the horses here because they are returned to the wild. But Jen gave this pony the name Cypress, and I thought it was pretty.
Over the next few days, I begin to miss home a little bit, but instead of getting homesick, I worked with Cypress to help her get used to walking on her bad leg. I became quite fond of her, and gave her plenty of attention. Jen and I helped a lot around the ranch; I even helped to deliver a foal. Later Jen asked me if I wanted to go exploring. It was great, I was able to see Bald eagles and sidewinding snakes and even interesting lizards, we had lizards in Virginia but they were much smaller than the little ones back home, and at night I even heard a couple coyotes howling, as I began to become much more curious, I had to realize that soon it would be time for me to go home. I didn’t want to leave Jen and Cypress.
The morning of my last day here, I ate breakfast and followed Jen outside. I ran at full-speed all the way to the stable, but Cypress wasn’t there, I then looked for and found her prancing around the corral. When she saw me, she galloped toward the fence. Jen’s mom came outside and started to hitch up a trailer to their jeep. I asked them what was going on, and Jen told me that they were doing a release today and invited me to come along. Then, it dawned on me that Cypress was going home.
The whole ride there to the land where she roamed, I kept my eyes fixed on hers through the little windows in the trailer. When the truck came to a stop, I almost started to cry. I watched as Jen’s mother pulled Cypress out of the trailer and around the side of the truck where I stood. Jen’s mother clipped a pink tag into Cypress’ ear, and handed me an apple and left the bridle in my hands as she and Jen stroked Cypress’ mane and walked away. I looked up at Cypress, hugged her neck tightly, and then fed her the apple and pet her. She neighed softly and nudged my face with her nose. I began undoing the reins, hugged her again, and then I heard a most incredible thundering sound and beneath my feet the Earth shook. Out in a field, dust was kicked up greatly and I saw about 12 wild horses running fast and free. I kissed my dear friend Cypress’ nose, ran my hand down the length of her, and gave her a good smack on her bottom and sent her storming away, and just like that, she was back with her family once again.
By: Grae Marino
Copyright © 2012