Everybody remembers where they were when something huge happened, like the first step on the moon, JFK shot, and 9/11, among many. Today is the commemoration day for 9/11, now an amazing eleven years back. That day changed our world, and not for the good in any way that I can see. I do remember that surreal day unfolding, the incredulity of it all. How? How could something so horrific be happening? It did. The amazing bubble of the imaginary safety net surrounding the USA was popped, and there is no going back to such a delusional innocence.
That day began for me with a phone call telling me to turn on the tv to see the unfolding news, that the Trade Tower had been hit by the plane. Details were sketchy and the terrorist attack thought was not really jelling by then. It seemed a random plane crash into one of the nation’s most recognizable buildings, and it was now chaos.
I watched the news for a bit then needed to call a company in Pennsylvania that, where a few weeks before, I had placed an order with for my new carriage. There were a few changes that I needed to make on the design and I knew that the family who actually made them at their factory in Poland, was there in the shop in PA for a few days. When I called I talked with the owner of the shop to relay the changes I wanted, the news from there was more chilling.
By this time of the day the airliner that was highjacked and was crashed on purpose to avoid greater loss of life, had crashed very close to their store and things were dicey to say the least. The owner told me they were all scared but that the family from Poland were about to flip totally out. They had lived through the reality of having their country invaded and taken over in a not to distant past, and now here they were in another country right in the middle of it getting attacked. Everyone was scared and confused, but they were terrified. In the craziness of the moment we did get the carriage business done and a few months later my beautiful carriage arrived from Poland, it having been thoroughly caught up in the new security screenings on imported items and was held for quite some time before I could receive it.
Today seeing the date and remembering that day now eleven years back, gave me a quick reality check on just how fast time has flown since then. For various reasons, like a set of broken ribs, I had not put the harness on my mare in probably over a year and a half, nor hooked her to the carriage. In commemoration, and the fact that it is today a nice day with an easy breeze, I thought I would drive my carriage to acknowledge the memory. Ordinarily I would have used caution and waited for help with hooking and driving her first time back in a long time, but I had conviction that fear/caution would not stop me today. It was time to try. So after wiping the dirt dauber nests off the harness and brushing the spider webs from the carriage I put the harness back on my trusty mare.
She stood as she is supposed to, still and not moving a foot, while I attached the traces and the shafts. I stepped aboard to put on my gloves and she could stand it no more, anxious to hear the command to “walk on” and was shifting around in front of me, wanting to go. I stopped her a time or two but choosing not to pick a fight I let her move on and put on the gloves as we walked the driveway up to the field by the road. There was enthusiasm in her step and I was feeling pretty confident that my decision to drive was a good one, when out of the woods in front of us came two bouncy fawns, bouncing this way then that towards us, then away, undecided and nervous. Their long white tails were perched way high and my mare Sunset was getting a really good look at them but was holding her on. Finally they made their path into the woods again and on we went.
It was a nice drive, the mare was not in shape for it so we walked and trotted a bit, nothing too hard. I took this shot of her, one of my favorite views, the horse out in front, happily doing its job. We headed in and called it a day and I stuffed her full of carrots and gave her a pat, marveling at how just that little bit had her muscles so pumped up. Driving is such a workout compared to riding, well not for me anyway, but for the horse yes. There are many magic moments I remember with horses, riding, training etc, but the best have been in a carriage with a truly working horse.
Later today I was looking in a book for some notes I had written and found this little sketch I had made years ago. I was stunned at the date, 8-23-01. Eleven years ago I had drawn this sketch from seeing this same view/image from the box seat, only weeks before the fateful 9-11.
What an erie coincidence, and what a reminder of what a difference a day can make. The day I drew that sketch the idea of terrorists blowing up buildings on US soil had not entered my brain, and why should it have. I was in a place of bliss that day, new to driving then and having such a pleasant time, oblivious to the future. Today, I do know the past, and I remember the uncertainty of the moment. In truth, though, all moments in the future are uncertain and each could be the last, but each must be lived with a boldness, contrived if necessary, to not let fear and caution win and keep us tied down and cowering. I think, if I can, I will use a carriage drive on future September 11ths to keep reminded of just this, and just keep “walking on”.