One thing I miss about living in a small town was the winding road home.
The drive home was a chance for me to pay attention to my surroundings, clear my mind, reflect and watch the seasons change before my eyes. On one particularly beautiful spring day, I met a new friend. To my right, there was a barn and some cattle. In front of the barn was one lonely minature pony. I called him Charlie. I would look out for Charlie everyday and wave to him. He would be grazing or trotting in a small circle every time I drove by. I finally told my husband about him and he began looking out for him too on his way to work. Despite all of his cuteness, Charlie looked really lonely. He was put on a long leash out in front of this barn and he would sometimes look up at the cars passing him on the country highway. I made sure he knew I noticed him! I promised him out loud that one day I would stop along my way to work to make a formal introduction.
One day, I noticed Charlie was gone. His leash was wrapped around the fence. I imagined the worse. I went home and cried to my husband. "Charlie is gone", I said. "I will never be able to pet him like I promised." My husband tried to reason with me and said there could be lots of reasons why he wasn't there. He could be warming up inside. I didn't believe him. For days, we both were on the look-out for Charlie. Nothing. No sign of him. I gave up hope. We both did, I think.
I finally trained myself not to look at the farm when I drove by because it only made me sad. Until one day, my husband came home and announced "Charlie's back!" I was so excited! We had to take a drive to see him. This time I got the chance to stop and say hello, in person.
As soon as we drove up, Charlie walked over to me at the fence. Call me silly but we were fast friends and I think he recognized me. He had an odd expression for an animal. There was a familiarity there. Perhaps we were friends in a past life or something. I kissed him and talked to him for a long, long time. We fed him lots of long grass and he even showed off for us and began trotting around like a "show pony". I think he liked the attention. I told him we were so happy he was back.
For another season, I got to enjoy Charlie. It was fall and the leaves were now turning. I would stop and pet him and talk to him about my day. He became a very good friend to me. I would sometimes beep my horn as I drove by when I was running late and couldn't stop to say hello. I never once saw anyone pay any attention to Charlie. Not his owners, not anyone else driving by.
I lost sight of him again come winter and he never re-appeared this time. I prepared myself for that possibility. I am still sad when I think about him but so glad we got to know eachother a little bit.