Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of “All that Glitters is Not Gold” (without using the actual phrase or literal example). (01/24/08)
TITLE: On Thin Ice
By Emily Gibson
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Our barnyard is no different. The cement slabs around our barn have the same coating of sparkling black ice in the morning as the roads do. In particular, the slab behind our hillside horse barn carries a current of rain and ground water from the fields sloping above it, streaming to the fields that lie below. However, it freezes hard during the night, becoming a sheet of very slippery ice laying between the barn and the gate to the pastures.
All year our horses are accustomed to going from barn to open gate without considering the footing over the slab, focused only on the green grass beyond rather than the journey required to get there. I certainly fear a horse falling on the ice and being injured as they are lured to the frosted fields which lie brilliant just a few yards away but in reality contain nothing but dead tasteless forage.
Our 25 year old gelding is always cautious and careful. He's seen unpredictable footing over the years and knows to check things out before committing himself, so walks carefully over the ice with no difficulty, and in no great hurry. Our yearling colt is also wary as he does not always know what to expect from the world yet, so he stops, sniffs the ice, tentatively puts a foot out as a test run and minces his way across, skittering as his smaller hooves give him little traction yet remains on his feet.
Our two pregnant mares, normally impatient about getting to any potential source of food, are heavy bellied and move awkwardly in the best of circumstances these days, so they are not eager to take chances either. They seem to know they are more vulnerable and move deliberately and ponderously, safely carrying themselves and their unborn foals over the ice with an air of great responsibility.
Not so cautious is our younger mare. She is unencumbered by pregnancy, full of pent up energy from lack of steady work in winter, and fueled by hormones. Nothing seems to really penetrate her brain aside from her own immediate desires and urges--all that matters is what appears so appealing in the distance. She rushes too fast once beyond the barn, does a little skating across the slab and woomph! lands butt first as her feet go out from under her. Getting up isn't easy with smooth hooves, so she gathers up what is left of her dignity and balance and struggles upright again. Standing still for a moment assessing how to proceed, full of a grace she lacked a few moments before, she walks soberly the rest of the distance through the gate. Once at pasture, she sniffs at the unappealing grass and looks back at me perplexed. All that hurry and trouble—for this??.
I'm in a more cautious time of my life myself. In my impulsive younger years I remember yearning for what lay beyond my reach, tantalizing as a siren’s call. There were times I took unnecessary risks rushing headlong toward things that proved worthless or foolish. I could have been far more discerning about what I set my sights on, but also regarding how I was going to get there.
I landed hard a few times. Picked up by grace and dusted off in forgiveness, I rejoice in the sometimes slippery journey on the thin ice of life.
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