The horse's pasture to the East...

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


Remember going to dances with your girl friends in High School? I do. I'd spend hours on my hair, choosing my outfit and jewelry, putting on what makeup I was allowed to wear. They'd come by to pick me up and off we'd go as a troop, there to support each other. Going to a dance by myself would have been torture. Going with friends along, well...there's no way I would have gone by myself. Too many predators to face on my own.

But it was different once we got inside. Up on a stage there would be one of those forever the same school rock bands playing Louie Louie. The lights were turned down low and there were BOYS. Oh the agony and the ecstasy. They'd shuffle around, looking bored and nervous, trying not to stare. And we'd do the same, supposedly there together. But when it came to someone walking in your direction, you were on your own. It was wonderful! Time would stretch out while he walked in your direction, looking at you and no one else. Then he would trip on his own feet because he was as young as you and just as nervous. The game was a foot...the courting game... and we were all players then.

If you were lucky, the guy who came to ask you to dance was pretty good at moving too. There was one I still remember. He was a tall, good looking Norwegian farm kid who's name was Dave. During the day, at school, he was my good buddy. I helped him with his homework and he gave me rides to school and watched my back for me. I was one of the new kids, so a target for the bullies. He befriended me the first day when he backed two of them off for me. He was tall, kind, funny, intelligent and friendly. He was endlessly polite too...opening doors, carrying books and holding chairs for me. He was never embarrassed by this noticeably "uncool" behavior.

It was Dave who came over to ask me to dance first. Whew....known territory. I could relax and just have a good time with him. Turned out he could dance too. I'd had my eye on a career as a professional dancer, so I was used to being light on my feet and could dance for hours at a time. But who knew that Dave could dance too?! It was wonderful! We were real partners together on the dance floor, moving in sync and lost in time. When I look back on it all these years later, it was probably because we both relaxed and just had fun. Neither one of us had any reason to worry about whether we needed to impress anyone. There was no itinerary.

Sound familiar? We relaxed and took the time it takes to find our rhythm together. And, even though we hadn't danced together before, we clicked and moved in unison, turning in circles, lines, sideways, backwards, forwards like we'd always danced as partners. We "heard" each other and moved as if we anticipated each other's thoughts. My feet followed his feet, matching energy and rhythm.

That's the way it was with Lucky today. With his gamy back leg and my equally gamy lower back, we hadn't really played for four weeks together. When I walked in to his pasture, he turned and saw me with his halter and lead and gaited right to me with a nicker. The sun was out, the wind had stopped and the day was ours!

Sometimes, when the stars line up just right, time becomes irrelevant...ceases to exist. It stretches in to that slow wave like it was when I danced with Dave all those years ago. Lucky heard me and knew where we were going at the lightest touch. He asked questions every step of the way, ears forward and eyes soft. And, oh, the licking and chewing going on. I smiled so much my checks are sore tonight! Both of us lost track of time and we danced. When we came up for air, his halter and lead were off and we were playing with no other reason than just because it was a perfect, cold, sunshiny day made for us to BE together. Today Lucky made the years fall away for me. It doesn't get any better than that!

There's only one way to end a day like that. I'm going to give you the recipe for the perfect cup of cocoa.


1. You'll need a good sauce pot, a whisk, a wooden spoon, excellent swiss cocoa...the dark kind, whole milk and cream, turbinado or demera sugar, real vanilla, a pinch of sea salt and either marshmallows or real whipped cream.

2. Measure in to the pot a heaping tablespoon of rich, dark cocoa and two tablespoons of sugar for each mug of cocoa plus a tiny pinch of sea salt. Add about 2 tablespoons boiling water per mug and whisk it hard while you slowly heat it up. You want the dry ingredients to melt together but not to caramelize.

3. Add 3/4 cup of whole milk and 1/4 cup of cream per mug being made and continue to whisk. After it's thoroughly mixed, switch over to your wooden spoon and continue to stir. Don't let it boil. You want to heat it slowly until it's creamy and steaming hot, just to a simmer. Add a good teaspoon of vanilla at the very end and give it another whisk to froth it up.

4. Ladle it into warmed mugs and top with either marshmallows or whipped cream. Serve it right away. Sip it and savor it. It's guaranteed to make you feel like you're 5 years old again and just come in from playing in the snow all afternoon. Drinking this cocoa is like having your Mom hug you, only from the inside out.

Enjoy! I'm right there beside you, smiling and remembering my night with a Norwegian .


Parelli Central said...

Oh my goodness, I LOVE hot COCOA. I want it now!!!

Petra Christensen
Parelli 2Star Junior Instructor
Parelli Central

Nancy, smiling! said...

Me too...and with a dancing Norwegian wouldn't be bad either!

Nancy, laughing at my memories