It’s a known thing that I am not a nature lover. I genuinely get nervous walking in a field versus a sidewalk. (I mean hello? Snakes love fields. Everyone knows that.) It has been this way for as long as I can remember; as a child I would become quiet and nervous on boats and during my teenage years never wanted to learn how to sail. Or camp. In fact, I have been camping once in my life. I was 6 years old, and it was on my parents back porch. Hey, three walls of windows to a back yard that was full of nocturnal creatures was enough for me.
When my sister was deciding which colleges she’d appy to,, I was the inevitable extra baggage that got taken along for the ride. On one such visit up in Vermont, my parents suggested we try horseback riding. Never have been horseback riding, I was at once nervous and thrilled. Hannah always had a love for equine culture, but I was more skeptical and let’s face it, short. They brought us to the horses, and the instructor showed me the noble stag to which I’d been assigned. His name was Love Bug. Love Bug and I squared off and had a good solid 10 seconds worth of evaluation and it should be noted that he was the biggest horse on the farm. (I think the trainer and my parents conspired to boost my pint sized ego.) No sooner was I on the horse with a helmet when another group just finishing their trot through the woods was rounding the corner. One of them made the noise you make to speed the horse up—you know, the little noise emitted from the side of your mouth to giddyup (or whatever). Well Love Bug was having none of it. He heard that noise and took off full steam ahead in a full run or whatever the shit it’s called straight for the barn. Not knowing how to properly ride, (it being my first time on a horse and all) I was bobbing all over the place on my saddle, literally feeling my ribs detach themselves from their connective tissue inside me. Love Bug was running straight for the barn, and what was worse was how tall he was. Even at my short stature, there wasn’t room for me to clear the entrance way of the barn on top of this Godzilla like creature. It’s in moments of sheer terror and panic that perfect clarity of your existence flashes in front of you. I was in one such moment on the verge of certain decapitation when I realized that this whole nature thing wasn’t for me. Nope, not for me at all. By the grace of god I bent forward onto Love Bug hugging his neck, barley clearing the entry way of the stalls when he took an abrupt right and parked in his little apartment. He was at his destination. And I was fucking done. My sister was literally crying she was laughing so hard. in all fairness, I don’t blame her.
Years later I had the incredible experience of spending time in the coastal village of Deauville with a friend and her family; being in Normandy during the summer has been one of the most sublime memories of my life. On a lazy afternoon, Marion suggested we go to the stables and spend some time riding horses. Not wanting to seem snobby or rude, I obliged. Keep in mind, this is in France. These horses respond to French commands, not English ones. We’re riding along, and all of a sudden, my horse (whose name I forget) decides to literally run for his life down the beach with me on his back. I cannot imagine a more horrific scenario: the American tourist screaming for her life down a beach at sunset in France on the back of a horse: AH-REEETE! AH-REEEETE! It is exactly what French people think Americans do: over react with a graceless idiocy, butchering their gorgeous language while employing the grammatical wit of a four year old. I honestly think the horse was in on it, too.
There are many things I’m good at. Nature and the animals in it, not so much.