Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Falling in love, again and again.

If you've ever read "The Velveteen Rabbit" by Margery Williams, you'll recognize the nickname for gentleman in the photo above: the Skin Horse. Partly because of how 'real' he is, and partly because of his color: Buckskin, is how the nickname came about.

He's not mine, no.  But I love him like he is.  This mature and gentle being belongs to my mom. His name is Spencer.

25 years ago, he looked like this:

His mom's name was J.B. and I would lounge on her uncomfortable back for as long as Lori would let me, just to bury my hands in that mane, lean close to her neck and smell that lovely scent of dirt, and "horse," which is an unforgettable smell.

His dad was named Diamond Eyes, a well known APHA (American Paint Horse Association) sire and Halter Performance horse:

When he was born, he didn't have any white markings on him, so the breeder put him up for sale immediately.  In the mid-to late-eighties paint horses were all the rage, and the more white coloring they had, the better.  According to the show circuit anyway.  

The Skin Horse had lived longer in the nursery than any of the others. He was so old that his brown coat was bald in patches and showed the seams underneath, and most of the hairs in his tail had been pulled out to string bead necklaces. He was wise, for he had seen a long succession of mechanical toys arrive to boast and swagger, and by-and-by break their mainsprings and pass away, and he knew that they were only toys, and would never turn into anything else. For nursery magic is very strange and wonderful, and only those playthings that are old and wise and experienced like the Skin Horse understand all about it.

"What is REAL?" asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. "Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?"

"Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real."

"Does it hurt?" asked the Rabbit.

"Sometimes," said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. "When you are Real you don't mind being hurt."

"Does it happen all at once, like being wound up," he asked, "or bit by bit?"

"It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."

"I suppose you are real?" said the Rabbit. And then he wished he had not said it, for he thought the Skin Horse might be sensitive. But the Skin Horse only smiled.

"The Boy's Uncle made me Real," he said. "That was a great many years ago; but once you are Real you can't become unreal again. It lasts for always."
The Rabbit sighed. He thought it would be a long time before this magic called Real happened to him. He longed to become Real, to know what it felt like; and yet the idea of growing shabby and losing his eyes and whiskers was rather sad. He wished that he could become it without these uncomfortable things happening to him. 

 In late November of 2009, Spencer, along with April, came all the way from southern California to North Carolina to live at Hope Farms.  Since then, I have fallen in love, again and again with the Skin Horse.

Lately, he's been known to teach me a thing or three, especially about trust, and every time I am around him I feel more comfortable in my own skin.  

At 25, and being from California, he doesn't keep his "topline," meaning, the roundness of a younger, more fit horse and I worry about him keeping his weight on, especially in the summer time.  The humidity of these NC summers are difficult for him, but I'm hoping that he adapts more and more every year.  

I no longer think of 25 as being "old" for a horse.  He has become. And he's helping me to do the same.

Thanks for sharing him, Mom.

1 comment:

Cherie said...

I love this. He is beautiful.

What is this leisure time of which you speak?

my grateful button