Last night, I heard a rumor that newborn foals were in the campus barn. Campus barn? Where was that?
“Honey! Baby horses at some barn! Let's go.” He got in the minivan without even thinking this might be a strange activity so close to bedtime. But if we are going to live with flair, we want to embrace some adventure.
We drove to campus and found the right road. “This doesn't look right,” I kept saying (I'd never been before, but it just didn't feel like it could be a magical place with newborn horses. It was too urban, too busy). My husband encouraged me to “just keep going” and that we'd find something eventually. I took a sharp right and then a left down an unmarked dirt road.
“Just keep going,” he said.
I did. In silence, we drove. We should have turned around and gone straight home. It was bedtime, and besides, the sky was threatening some thunderstorm. We'd never find the place anyway.
Then, like we'd entered Narnia through the wardrobe, an enormous expanse of rich green meadow opened before us. To the left, a single white barn. The surrounding campus evaporated; there were no other buildings in sight.
We had entered a hidden pocket of paradise right in the middle of a town.
The setting sun made the meadow golden and deeply green with light and long shadows. The brewing storm made the air heavy and electric. The barn was quiet. Was this the right barn? We left the minivan, not even bothering to close the doors.
In the cool of the barn, we walked by each stall, one by one. All empty, except for two stalls near the end. We peered in, straining our necks. We held the girls up so they could see. There were real live horses in there.
Two chocolaty brown mares and caramel one-month old foals snuggled into one another in separate stalls.
I'm a city girl. I grew up outside of DC, and I've never seen a real foal before (except on TV or in picture books). Amazed at the tiny legs, so unsteady, I held my breath. He was. . . tiny. I couldn't believe that just a moment before, I was driving through suburbia, and now this. What could be more beautiful on this evening?
A few minutes later, we left the barn from the opposite entrance. As I turned the corner, I froze. Six enormous mares, their coats shining with light, hovered over six separate foals—right in front of me. Each foal mirrored the mother's movements exactly as she roamed the meadow. That fragile creature was not only guarded by the mother, but by all the mothers.
Here, in this place, all is well as a mare protects a newborn foal.
We discovered a young woman who rents a room by the barn to care for these horses night and day. Her face shines and her heart seems at peace. Nations battle, people suffer, but here, in this barn, a girl cares for horses and instructs visitors when they can come back to see a new foal due in just a week. The pregnant mare, Skipped Emotion, stood proud and tall in her stall.
We'll be back in a week to see the newcomer. We'll be back to congratulate the mother, whose presence brings forth everything but skipped emotion. In fact, for once, we are fully in our emotions—awe, wonder, joy. We are coming back for more.
Living with flair means marveling at foals. It means leaving your home, even though it's bedtime, to find a secret barn cloaked by campus all around. It means you “just keep going” until you find the right road. You'll find it if you just travel in far enough.