Two days after the first exploration, Anne, Cosmo, Tucker and I, set out again to wander thhe wilds behind my house, determined to find the woods full of baby fences. If possible, the day was even more glorious- warm sun, light breeze and we actually shut up for moments to enjoy the rhythm of leaf-crunching hoofbeats.
We headed along the trails on a mission, our pace was purposeful, my sense of direction, however, was not. I knew where I wanted to be, but it seemed like a typical New England quandry: You can't get there from here.
Our first clue that this was more complicated than it needed to be was a sign: Caution. Shooting Range.
Nevermind the bird hunter's shotguns blasting in the distance, the fact that some of the land we were exploring belonged to a hunting preserve, or that it was bow hunting season. We were travelling in the opposite direction of the shooting. This was someones personal range. I didn't hear gun-like noises or voices. It seemed safe and the trail led right through. Trotting forward, we confirmed that the range was empty and hightailed it away. Well, until Tucker spotted the buck standing smack dab in the center of the path.
We stopped. Everyone stared. The deer sniffed, Tucker pricked his ears. Anne backed Cosmo off Tucker's rear end, muttering about the infinite ways to be kicked and commenting on the boldness of the buck blocking our way. After a few moments of mutual regard, the four-pointer ambled a few steps into the brush.
Our now clear path led us to the back of a barn yard. Not the chickens, pigs, sheep, and cows wandering around kind of barnyard, but the immaculate back side of a pristine indoor arena and horsebarn perfection, complete with a near life-sized sculpture of a running horse.
The choices available were to sully this perfect setting with our passing or head back into the woods and find another way to the road- the road we needed to cross to get to te promised land. I turned Tucker toward the barn. A horse in a nearby paddock began to saunter over. Ok- he galloped over. Tucker grew about six inches with interest. Ahead, another horse was being led toward the barn. I could hear Cosmo blowing behind me.
"What do you want to do?"
"Uh...not sure. I guess we can go through..."
I squeezed Tucker forward. That's when he noticed the sculpture.
Tucker is not overly excitable. But he did NOT like that sculpture. He spun around and started trotting away, blowing and puffing. I turned him around, he spun back. I could tell this was a fight I did not want to have.
"Guess we'll go this way." Back into the woods we went.
We came to a driveway; it was where we had turned back toward home on the last ride, but today we turned toward the road; it was right there!!! We simply couldn't seem to get to it. Another fork. Should we continue down the driveway or explore an inviting grassy lane that seemed to cut directly to where we wanted to go?
The grass was soft and spongy as we meandered...right into someone's backyard. Someone who happened to be puttering in their garden. OOPS!
I turned to Anne.
"Should we turn around? Or ask if we can ride through?" We dickered for a moment. I am not the most decisive person. The road was so close!!! Finally, I took a deep breath.
"Excuse me, I think we're a bit lost."
"I should say so." The woman's British accent conveyed her surprise and annoyance at our intrusion. She was older, dressed in a long skirt, Wellington boots, and a light jacket. It was as if our path had led us somehow into the English countryside. I don't really believe in fairies, regardless of what others might tell you.
"We're trying to get to the road."
"Well, it's right there." Obviously.
"Should we turn around? Is there another path we can take?" At this point the boys were getting restless. Anne was silent. I'm sure she was thinking good thoughts and admiring my ability to handle the situation.
"Well, I suppose, if you stay right to the edge of the lawn, you could come across and go up the driveway." She sounded dubious.
"If it's a problem we can go around."
"No.I think if you stay way over, it will be fine. Where are you coming from?"
I told her where the horses lived and who Mr. Wonderful was. Oh, what a difference a name drop makes.
"Oh. How nice! Just go up the driveway. It's nice to meet you."
I apologized profusely for my mistake, assured her it wouldn't happen again, and skirted the yard.
Cosmo almost took Anne off with a low branch, but we stayed on the edge of the lawn. Once on the driveway and out of sight, I breathed a sigh of relief, while imagining how I was, most likely, going to become gossip fodder. I pictured the woman picking up the phone..."Guess who wandered into my yard, lost???" Ugh.
The upside was the driveway emptied directly across from where we wanted to go. Finally, we got to play around and jump. It was a blast.
The best part was finding our way back- the short way. The very short way. We had wandered for about an hour and a half going out. Coming back took fifteen minutes. It was so worth it.