The other night as I was driving home, I saw what I thought was a deer crossing the road. It wasn’t a deer, though; it was a horse galloping down the road in the dark. Following the horse was a goat, just a little brown blur following its friend. I grew up around horses, so I stopped and got out of the car. It was very cold out, not even 10 degrees. A couple had stopped first, and I told them I’d help, since I grew up around horses (and my own used to bolt from our field from time to time). The owner wasn’t home, but the other folks had called the police.
We flushed the horse off the street. She then hid behind the garage, so I went to her barn, using my phone’s flashlight, and got her some hay. In a minute, I heard hoof beats clattering on the frozen ground. “She’s coming your way!” the man called, and I’ll admit, it was a little scary, since it was too dark to see her. But she went right past, the little goat frisking along behind her.
I sent the other folks off, since I had no plans that evening, and stood, waiting for the state police or owner to come home. Then a wee cat hopped up on the porch and sat, mewing in front of the door. When I approached, she started to purr. I picked her up and snuggled her; she was so chilly! After she was warmed up, I tried the door. Lo and behold, the door was open. I put the kitty inside and then went back to the fence in case the horse made another break for freedom.
It’s a strange thing, being outside in the dark when it’s so cold. The sky seems closer and brilliant with stars. The sounds of the horse eating her hay and the occasional bleat of the goat were reassuring. I’m not often outside in the frigid cold, staring at the night sky, listening to the quiet.
The minutes ticked past. I called the coppers again and asked when they’d get there. They said they weren’t coming. “Aren’t you afraid the horse will get out again?” I asked. “I can’t tell where the break in the fence is. What if she runs back into the road and causes an accident?”
“We called the owner, ma’am,” said he. “You don’t have to stay. It’s not your problem.”
But it was, sort of. My urge to save the world is strong, and I don’t get many chances to be heroic. What if someone’s kid was driving home, and the horse bolted and the kid hit a tree? What if it was my kid? A pregnant lady? An old person who might stagger out of the car and freeze to death in the woods? Such are the thought of a writer. So I stayed until the owner came. She was most grateful for my help, and the horse was locked in the barn for the night with her little goat friend. I got back in my car, brushed the hay and cat fur off my coat, and headed for home feeling very chipper and neighborly indeed.
I was going to write a blog about the new year and try to offer advice and tips on how to be happier, more productive, gentler on yourself. But maybe this story told it better than a list. Keep an eye out. Try not to be afraid, even when you don’t know what’s coming at you. Look at the sky. Feel the quiet. Don’t always be in a hurry to get somewhere. There’s little else in the world that will make you feel better than doing a favor for someone else.
Happy New Year, my friends. I wish you health and happiness and quiet nights full of stars.