They say the third time is the charm. I'm hoping that's so. I've tried to post on the previous two days and lost both stories and sets of photos...very frustrating.
Last Saturday, in Lawrence, we had the Horse Parade. It's the largest parade of it's kind on the country...all horses all the time. There were more than ninety different kinds of buggies, carts and wagons and more Outriders than I could count. And most people were in costume too.
The parade started with the Color Guard from Fort Riley. We had a chance to stop and talk to them at the Park they were stationed in. Their saddles are all authentic, right down to the last detail. So are their uniforms.
We saw beautiful Frisians, Paints, Shires, Shetlands, Quarter Horses, Belgians, Mules, Donkeys. You name it, they were there.
There was even a Doc's buggy with the beleaguered, exhausted Doc "asleep" in his buggy while the horse took him home.
There was a Chuck Wagon with all the pans rattling on the sides (and the horses never batted an eye either!) and a restored Wells Fargo Stage Coach.
And then there were the Buffalo Soldiers riding side by side and singing gospel and marching songs. We met them last year. Their rigs are authentic too. And their uniforms are even made out of real lindsey woolly fabrics.
That palomino horse and the buckskin were both very calm and even tempered geldings. They both wanted to know if I had cookies. They knew which pocket I usually carry them in.
The Shires with their sparkle fringe on were real crowd pleasers. All the little girls "Ooooohhhed and aaahhhhed!" over them. Their rigs were perfect too...shiney and well oiled. And the bells they wore sounded the way a Hallmark card always looks! They moved together in a very nice rhythm, soft and easy down the street.
Standing in front of us were three little girls, all about five or six years old. They were the perfect age for that certain kind of life long love affair to start. And they were with their
Dad's too! I stood there and listened to them giggle while they ate their cotton candy (pink, of course!). They were a sticky mess by the end of the parade. Each of those Daddies, one by one, carefully washed off their daughter's faces using their fingers and some spit...a time honored method.
They, very seriously, discussed what kind of horse they were going to get for Christmas. One of them chose the Mini Donkey that went by, gamely pulling a cart all by itself with a rather large person in it.
They all start out at the Fairgrounds, so the parade is actually about fifteen miles long by the time they circle back to the starting point.
The weather was perfect for it too... cold, crisp without a wind. There were hot chocolate vender's up and down the street selling their "hot chocolate water" (it's never made with milk anymore, mores the pity). John and I bought some. It smelled great and was very nice to hold, keeping hands warm. The only thing good about it to drink were the gooey little marshmallows. I drank it anyway.
It's a tradition.
Most of the bigger wagons had side walkers or riders. I was glad to see that. The horses were much calmer with their people and pasture buddies around them.
The best part of the parade for me, though, is the sounds. I love the sound of hooves clopping down a street. Massachusetts Street is no longer cobbled the way it used to be when I was a girl, but some of the crosswalks are. So, just for brief moments, I could hear the sounds
from a century ago, when all you saw were horses and carriages and wagons in downtown Lawrence.
I managed to get a shot of one of the cowboys as he rode down the street on his nice, little Quarter Horse talking on his cell phone! Sort of ruined the image, but it cracked me up too. He was one of the "real deal" cowboys who came in from their ranches to ride in their day to day gear. I didn't much care for the tie down he had on his horse though.
Some of the wagons were all gussied up with ribbons and greenery, bells
and sparkles on the horses. I saw a few horses that shouldn't have been in the parade too. They weren't ready for an environment like that, with thousands of predators staring at them. They were buggy eyed and hot wired with fear. And I can't say their riders were handling that well either. The ones I saw were angry, which makes their horse think they need to be afraid. Scary loops they were caught up in, and most of it was human ego driven too.
But, all in all, it was a wonderful parade. The people watching it were as much fin to watch as the folks participating. Horses are such an important part of our history and, I think, people are hungry for that connection still even if it's only for a brief hour at a parade.
In honor of the day, I'm going to share my Grandma's shortbread cookies. They're over the top indulgent Christmas cookies made with entirely too much butter...most excellent with tea or hot chocolate (not the made with water kind!).
GRANDMA'S THUMBPRINT COOKIES
1. Heat your oven to 375 degrees. Have an ungreased cookie sheet ready and some cooling racks. If you have a half coyote/half dog living with you, don't go off and leave these to cool for even a few minutes unattended. You'll come back to a spotless counter and a happy coyote...no cookies, crumbs or anything at all except a cookie sheet on the floor.
2. Mix together thoroughly a stick of real butter (1/2 cup), a 1/4 cup brown sugar, a dash of sea salt, the egg yolk from a farm egg (save the white) and a tsp of vanilla (only the real stuff please).
3. Sift together and stir in 1 cup unbleached flour. It's going to make a nice, short cake kind of dough.
4. Roll into balls about the size of a small walnut and dip into your saved egg white that's been slightly beaten, and then roll in either shopped walnuts or pecans. I like walnuts better for this recipe.
5. Place about 1 inch apart on cookie sheets, and bake for five minutes. Remove from oven (I just pull the shelf out) and quickly press your thumb gently on the top of each cookie (use a spoon if you're worried about getting burned. There's an art to doing this with your thumb without hurting yourself.) and return to oven to bake for about eight minutes more.
6. Cool on racks and put a dab of your favorite jelly in the depression when they're cooled. You can really spruce these up if you want to with tiny edible silver balls on top of the jelly, or bits of maracino cherries, tiny bits of mint leaves, chopped candied ginger, whatever suits your fancy and whim of the day.
It's only going to make about two dozen cookies. I don't make more than that because I like to make them right before I serve them for a fancy tea. You could make more though. I'd use some parchment or wax paper in between the layers when you store them or put them in a Christmas box or plate for a gift.
Enjoy! You'll love the way these smell when you're cooking them, and they're extra nice when the weather is cold and your appetite is up.
I am, ever yours, Nancy... hoping this post will publish successfully