One afternoon I was alone at the livery when a small, hatchback car pulled up and out stepped an older lady. At first glance, I estimated her to be in her late sixties; she moved with dignity and spirit, but when I got closer, I realized that she was much older. She leaned on the fence, delight at seeing the horses all over her face. I could tell that she had a kindred horse spirit. I met her at the gate, wondering if she was stopping by for a ride even though we didn't have one on the books.
No, she hadn't stopped for a ride, but saw the horses and they brought back so many fond memories she just had to stop. In her eighties, she was car camping alone at nearby Olive Ridge campground. She explained to me that her kids were grown with kids of their own and didn't enjoy the mountains as much as she did, so she just packed up her car and headed up the mountain. She was too old, she told me, to sleep on the ground so she chose to sleep in her car, which was much more comfortable and if she got cold she could just turn on her heater.
I invited her into the yard to meet the horses, but she declined. She did tell me that one in particular reminded her of a horse she had as a child, so I brought that horse up to the fence. I don't remember which horse it was that I took to her, but I do remember the look on her face as I led the horse to the fence. It was as if the clock had been turned back and she was a child again, the delight absolutely radiating from her. She completely forgot I was even there, she was so lost in her memories. I stood quietly holding the horse watching her go back in time. The horse was as entranced as she was and stood absolutely still while she ran her hands over the horse and murmured her memories.
I'm not sure how long we stood there, the three of us, but it was an absolutely magical time. When she was done with her walk down memory lane, I offered to help her up and just lead her around the yard. She turned me down, but said that she may come back the next day to take me up on the offer then. We chatted a bit longer, then she drove off with a big, child-like smile on her face. I watched her drive away, absently petting the horse, and hoped against hope that she would come back the next day.
I didn't work the next day - I wasn't scheduled - so I don't know if she returned or not, but I'll always remember the look of absolute joy on her face. I can't quite explain the feeling I got from being a small part of her trip down memory lane.