Today my good friends Michelle Coburn and Laura Croix came all the way in from Anchorage for a visit. Generally, people from the Valley go to Anchorage, but people from Anchorage do not come out here. They consider it too far away. Plus they think that there is not much to do here, the exception being around the holidays when they come in droves here and plunder the spruce trees – and then put them in their living rooms. Laura rode Tinni, Pete rode Raudi, and Michelle and I ground drove Hrimmi. Michelle handled the reins, and I walked with Hrimmi. The following is a condensed version of Hrimmi and my ongoing conversation.
Driving Ms. Hrimmi
Alys: Hmm what?
H: I have a lot of gear on.
A: And a bit in your mouth.
A: Hmmm what?
H: This bit, it feels odd.
A: It belonged to your mother. And she left it to you.
H: I’d rather she left me a barn full of hay.
A: She did.
H: Where is it?
A: You and the others ate it all.
A: Michelle just asked you to walk on.
H: She’s supposed to say a-n-n-d walk.
A: Different people are going to work with you, and sometimes their commands are going to vary.
H: This is going to take some getting used to.
A: But don’t worry. Pete and/or I will always be with you.
H: You weren’t with me that summer you left me behind.
A: I know. But you will be soon be old enough and trained enough to go on trips with us.
H: Raudi has told me about those trips. She wants to do more.
A: We will.
H: The one behind me is telling me to walk in the road on the gravel. I want to walk on the edge of the road – it’s easier on the soles of my feet.
A: Hrimmi, just keep going. Go where you feel most comfortable.
H: You are taking the lead off. Oh oh. Now I can’t chew on it.
A: I want you now to take the initiative to walk on, without me leading you.
H: Raudi and Tinni, they’re ahead of me. I will follow them.
A: That’s fine.
H: The one behind me talks a lot.
A: I want you to focus on feeling the pressure on the bit. When it tightens, stop. When she asks you to walk on, move along.
H: I get it.
A: Why are you stopping?
H: Because you always give me a treat when I touch this car.
A: Okay. Just this once. Because you’ve been doing so well.
H: Am I doing well?
A: Hrimmi, you are doing great. I am so proud of you.
H: Do you love me as much as you love Raudi?
A: Indeed, I do. You were your mother’s gift to us. You have been with us since you were conceived. You did that first long trip.
H: Of course, I don’t remember any of it.
A: We’re now going up the trail.
H: Can you now let me go? I want to run around.
A: What you are to learn here is that we decide when your work day begins and ends.
H: Raudi told me that this is something that I need to get used to.
A: We will always be reasonable and never, ever ask you to do too much.
H: Raudi said she put a few overly long days on the trail.
A: Well, this is sometimes the case – in doing long distance trips we sometimes have to go further than planned.
H: How come, if I’m a long distance trekking horse, you are training me to drive?
A: Because it’s good to know how to do differing things. This way, you will never be bored.
H: That’s good. I sometimes now get bored.
A: This is because you are still a young horse and though you want to do more, we are holding off until you are mentally and physically mature.
H: (Stopping). I AM mature.
A: I will be the judge of that.
H: Be a good judge.
A: I have been taking the responsibility of making this and other decisions very seriously.
H: Keep up the good work!
A: You too!
H: We’re home.
A: And you did a wonderful job today. And now you and Raudi and Tinni have something to talk about.
H: Oh yes.
A: We’ll wait a few days before doing this again. Would you like to go for a walk tomorrow?
H: Yes. This will give me something to look forward to.
Next: 50. 2/21/16: We Be Alaskans - brrrrr