We finished filling the stock tank and cleaning stalls (well, I cleaned stalls...) and took my old gelding down to the river in the warm afternoon sun. We rode double, she sat behind me. She only held onto my waist part of the time, getting braver with letting go, looking around, pointing at things here and there -- ducks in the canal, a groundhog sunning himself in a field, red-winged blackbirds on the reeds in the water. "Mommy, make him do the bouncy thing!" "You mean trot?" "Yes! Do that!" Reluctantly, he did. Good old Zenon, he knows when a child is on board, and he behaves. His trot was only a fraction of the usual Death Bounce. She squealed in glee, laughing, clutching my waist, burying her head in my back. The sun was hot on our shoulders and our hair, and we pretended we were pioneers heading out west, searching the horizon for hostile natives.
It was do this or stay inside and watch a game on television. We chose this. It was a beautiful afternoon with my girl. It was the kind of afternoon that gives me the strength to get through the next 7 days of the things that will be inevitably difficult, the next 7 days of rages, parental stress, not enough sleep and not enough patience. If I could have a few hours like this with her every day I think I would be able to fucking FLY.