Several years ago — I’m not certain exactly how many — wife, Danny, and I were sitting at the house on a Sunday afternoon, doing something or perhaps nothing — again I’m not certain. All of the sudden out of nowhere a wagon train appeared up on the hill and slowly wagon after wagon, and horseback rider after horseback rider, meandered by on the dirt road out front.
We went out onto the porch and took a front row seat on the concrete steps for our private parade. Music played and the friendly folks participating in the Dixie National North Trail Ride waved big as one by one they went by. It was fun and kind of exciting to watch, especially since it was an unexpected treat and quite a surprise as well.
In the following years we began to watch for the trail ride, and when we could hear the thump of the music up over the hill we would make our way out onto the porch and enjoy the show again. In years when the weather was nice we’d sit on the steps and take in the whole thing.
In years when the rains were torrential we’d slide back into the rocking chairs and try to stay dry as we watched those folks go sloshing by. The road would be a horrible mess the next morning but it was worth it to get to see the beautiful horses, and mules, and fancy and plain wagons in tow.
Cold years we’d say “I don’t know how they can stand it” especially if there were rain in the forecast and we’d turn and slip back inside after only a few minutes.
Sunday it was kind of chilly out, but when Henry the yard dog — he’s not really “our” yard dog and Henry is not really his name — signaled something was amiss up the road I wandered out to the big Sweetgum tree in the front pasture and took a seat on the board swing hanging from one of it’s branches to watch the ride go by.
Danny took her place on the front porch and we waved and snapped pictures and snapped pictures and waved. “Aren’t you cold,” I yelled to a young girl on horseback. “Yes sir, a little bit,” she yelled back, but I already knew that she had to be.
A bit of a breeze picked up shortly and as the flag on the pole indicated it was blowing from due north and had a pretty good bite. I decided I’d had enough of trail riding for this year — from the front yard anyway — and made my way back inside where the fire was warm and the wind was not blowing....very much. It is a very old house!
I got up a bunch of times and peered out the window just to make sure I didn’t miss anything of great importance and to make certain Henry had not joined in the parade.
All was well. After his initial warning bark Henry had taken his place back on his porch bed where he spends most nights guarding the place, and he was paying little attention to what was going on out in the road.
We had a pot of soup simmering on the stove, and as in years past, we made small talk about the riders, and the horses, and the wagons, and that road, and the soup, and, of course, Henry the yard dog.
This was a good year. It was wet but not too wet, cold but not too cold, and the road was well ridden but not much of a mess at all.
As for Henry, he had his guard on good as the sun began to rise Monday morning when I took Dottie and Roxie, our two little Chihuahuas that really are our Chihuahuas and those really are their names, out for their walk. The coyotes were yipping and Henry started howling his howl warning them that they better stay very far away. He’s good at that.
You know, it’s a blessing having a good yard dog like Henry, that’s not really your dog, or really named Henry, standing guard over the place. Not necessarily to warn you that boogers are out and about and to help run them off, but also to let you know when trail riders are coming and that it’s time to come out and play.