Plans in Minot are changing a bit -> at the meeting somebody pointed out how DARK it would be at 5pm in Minot (after daylight savings time) on 8.November! So – the new plan: all of the “official” festivities will take place on Saturday 9.November. We’ll start gathering for the parade around 11am. At 1pm the parade will ride out, heading for the old cellar hole on Mesannie Wilkins’ former homestead. That will mark the official end of the parade and from there I’ll go on (with whomever wishes to accompany me) with Jesse James and Saint Finehorn to visit Mesannie Wilkins’ grave. Then the ponies will go to a nice quiet barn/paddock for the night while the humans head to the grange hall for dinner and celebration. Anybody who wants to join the ride from North Yarmouth to Minot (Thursday and Friday) is still most welcome – we just won’t swell into a parade on Friday afternoon.
Kevin McShane will be there showing his 25 minute documentary film, “The Mesannie Wilkins Story” and actress Joanie Mitchell, who played Mesannie in the film, will be there as well. People who knew Mesannie personally will be coming to regale us with stories of her life in Minot. Last I heard Lucy Leaf will be there representing the Long Riders’ Guild and Gryph Wulfkil (my boon companion, who accompanied me on the first 5 months of the ride and then returned for another 2 months mid-way) will be riding her beloved Saint Finehorn in the parade. Speaking of the parade – I’d love to see a lot of costumes in the parade! Come dressed as your hero or as who you want to be when you grow up, a fictional character or even a mythical beast! Come out and play!
It is increasingly strange to think about the Reality that three weeks from today I’ll be riding into Minot. I’ve found myself walking alongside the ponies as much as I’ve been riding lately; a bit melancholy and contemplative, dawdling along talking to them as we meander. I’ve found myself unconsciously procrastinating on things relating to the end of the Journey – like this blog post informing everybody of the change in schedule! I’ve been avoiding ‘phone calls as much as I can (which I know isn’t helpful) and I’m shamefully behind on e-mail correspondence. This being the case, if I haven’t answered your e-mail or I ought to have called you and haven’t, please don’t give up! Things are falling through the cracks a bit and I need all the help I can get! It’s easier for me to keep track of and respond to e-mails and facebook messages – ‘phone calls are ok when they’re short and to the point, but I often don’t have paper and pencil handy. I’m feeling kind of quiet and withdrawn and maybe even a little bit lost. All this, and the ride isn’t even over yet! Two years is a looooong time!
Last Spring I met a couple on the Natchez Trace. They were from New Hampshire and our interaction was brief – but when I mentioned my friend who lived in Exeter they said that they were in the very next town with room for ponies and handed me a business card. I tucked it away for many months and as I approached New Hampshire I actually managed to find it again! I wrote an e-mail and it bounced back. Heart in my throat I called the number and left a message. Wonder of wonders they called back and the invitation was still open. We discussed a few details and they organized a neighborhood potluck. This is one of those situations when I realize just how special my ponies really are. Over half of the neighbors were kids. The ponies were loose in the side yard, barricaded in with chairs and sawhorses and tables full of food! They were gentle and tractable as the kids took turns leading them around (and around and around) the yard. They were polite as they accepted apples and carrots and a million pats and kisses. They were patient and careful about where they put their feet. They were pony love incarnate! A few times I ran interference when I saw their attitudes starting to sour a bit, but most of the time I left them to the kids and they were beautiful! So were the kids. 😉
I’ve been staying a few days with a friend I haven’t seen in 6 years. She’s added a husband and two young daughters since then! The friendship goes back to a horse connection 30 years ago and to our mothers before we were born and it’s a much appreciated blessing to have some time with her in the midst of everything. Yesterday the ponies moved from Stratham to Newcastle where they have a grassy pasture for a few days, courtesy of a woman whose sister goes to church with my folks back in Bethlehem, NY. It’s a small country (when you’re not riding across it!) Due to a couple of route changes I’m a few days ahead of myself in terms of scheduling and I’m so grateful to be able to spend them here with an old friend, knowing that the ponies are safe and happy.
Sunday morning the ponies and I ride out to Dover, NH to the New England Equine Medical and Surgical Center – thankfully not because we need their services, but because they’ve been kind enough to offer a place to stop for the night! From there it’s on to Old Mountain Farm (Nigerian milk goats) on the flank of Mount Agamenticus and then following the coast as best we’re able up to Wells, Maine and Kennebunk. I’ve made the (perhaps rash) decision to leave my tent behind this last stretch. I’ve got places to stay lining up as far North as Kennebunk and then picking up again in North Yarmouth. Faith or foolishness? Time will tell, but meantime Finehorn is grateful for a load that is lighter by 8 pounds and the forecast is holding mostly clear and not too cold. I have yet to determine the best route from Kennebunk to North Yarmouth from the ponies’ perspective, but at most we’re facing four nights of the unknown. Such small numbers…