A Pair of Percherons

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Meet Jerry and Jake, two Percheron draft horses pulling the trash cart through Middlebury. Imagine getting the coffee ready and seeing these two on recycling day instead of the hulking truck coming down the street.

I have a childhood memory of a horse pulling a broken-down wagon rolling up Kingston Street where I grew up. The junk man, he called himself, and every now and then, the call would go out among us neighborhood children, “Here comes the junk man!” And I would run, thrilled to hear the clop-clop of the horses’ hooves, it stirred an excitement in me that has never diminished, and ignited when I saw these guys clopping down Buttolph Drive yesterday morning. I grabbed my camera and flew out the door as they glided around the curve at a speed we would all be better off going. The driver and crew were accustomed to breathless photographers in sloppy clothes who wanted to see the horses, be near a living vestige of our past but what they did not know was my own long history with horses and the burning attraction that somehow these animals are an integral part of my living spirit and always will be.

It’s not something I can explain. You horse people know what I mean.

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The connection goes further to people I have been drawn to over the years. I have come to expect that whenever I meet someone I like immediately (I am reticent my nature, not inclined to connecting easily), who moves a certain way or sees the world from a different, usually kinder (but not always) viewpoint, invariably has pets, who may not like but is not put off by bad weather, is clever with a shovel, is not afraid of getting dirty, and in general, exudes a kind of independent confidence, that we share some common history of horse involvement, past and or present. This is not limited to friends and acquaintances, there are some people in my own family I am drawn to for the same reason, imagine that.

Jerry and Jake work Tuesday and Thursdays at this job, another pair work Mondays and Wednesdays. I wanted to ask more questions; heck, I wanted to scratch their withers, I wanted to feel the warm harness, I wanted the smell of horse on my palms, I wanted to hop on the wagon and drive. But they had a job to do, the man and woman picking up the recycling from the homes of the people who had hired them were waiting patiently for me to step away so they could move on and finish their cold job.

I count this as one of the many little miracles of living in a new place, wouldn’t you? The world opens up in unexpected ways, it changes you, if you let it.

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