Monthly Archives: April 2015

The Seventh Season


New England has more seasons than any other place I’ve ever lived.  Texas has two seasons: Hot Dry, and Cool Wet.  You can get both seasons in the space of one week, and they each come around multiple times per year, but there are still only two.  Wisconsin had four seasons: Summer, Fall, Winter, and Spring.  Very basic and uncomplicated, those seasons. New England has at least six.  There’s the usual Summer, Fall, Winter, and Spring, but then there’s also Stick and Mud.

Stick comes between Fall and Winter, and it’s one of the two seasons that is characterized by a preponderance of the color Brown. Stick is the inevitable payment, with interest, for the fabulous New England Fall, known world-wide for its stunning multicolored beauty.  At some point, all of those wonderful brightly colored Fall leaves, well…fall.  Fall off.  Hit the ground, and lie there, moldering, leaving the world full of, well…sticks.  Stick season.

Mud comes between Winter and Spring, and is the sad payment, with interest, for those picturesque hills covered with glistening white blankets of snow.  At some point, it melts, and because the topography of New England can be summarized with a few short words like “hilly”, “rocky”, and “surface water” we get a truly epic season of Mud.  This year, astonishingly – given the record amounts of snow we had – Mud was surprisingly short and surprisingly not horrible.  Huey has been known to lose up to three shoes in a really bad Mud.  This year, he only lost one, and it was almost time for the farrier to come out and put his summer shoes on anyway, so it wasn’t too bad.

Pretty much, I think, everyone knows about Summer, Fall, Spring, and Winter, and quite a few people have heard of Mud.  Stick is a new one on me since I came to New England, as is the seventh season: Long Sleeves And Shorts.

Long Sleeves And Shorts can overlap with several of the other seasons.  It almost never overlaps with Winter, not unless you’re talking about tweens and teens, all of whom are indestructible, and none of whom think it’s Cool to dress for the weather.  Long Sleeves And Shorts season can overlap with Summer, particularly on the coast.  Most frequently, though, it happens in conjunction with Spring, Fall, Stick, and Mud.  A certain quality to the air arrives, and people flood out onto the streets sporting a wide range of Long Sleeves and Shorts.  Since New England is basically the Fountain of All Preppiness, you often see khaki shorts and rugby shirts (on both men and women).  You might see boarder shorts and long-sleeve t-shirts.  You see skimpy little running shorts and a long-sleeve quarter-zip technical top in lurid colors never seen elsewhere in nature.  You see padded bike shorts, and long-sleeved slinky tops festooned with obscure logos.  You see cargo shorts and flannel shirts, or denim shorts with thermal waffle-knit henleys.  If it’s particularly chilly, you see the shirts covered up with a zippered  vest.  When Long Sleeves and Shorts season happens on the coast in summer, you can see shorts paired with a collared shirt and a sweater.

I’ve been in and around New England so long, at this point, that I didn’t even notice Long Sleeves and Shorts season until this past fall, when some friends of mine from Texas came up for a visit.  Roy and I suited up for some outing or other – independently, I should add – and rejoined our guests.  They stared at us in astonishment.  “Long sleeves? And shorts?” they said.  “Now we really know we’re in New England.”  They were both baffled and amused by this, I think.  I suppose that I would have been, too, if I were more recently from Texas.

As it is, it makes perfect sense for me.  Long Sleeve and Shorts season is characterized by the exciting phenomenon of having two seasons in one day.  Sometimes two seasons in a four-hour period, which it’s been doing lately.  You have to dress for both, and this is the compromise.  It’s Winter in the morning – it was 34 when I woke up – so you wear the long sleeves.  But you know that it’s going to be Summer in very short order – probably by the time I come back from grocery shopping – so you wear the shorts.  What’s not to understand about this?

In Texas, it’s not unknown to have both seasons in one day: to wake up to Hot, and then have an arctic front blast through and drop the temperatures to Cool.  The difference between Hot and Cool season in Texas can be anything from 101 Fahreneheit to 40, so this is not a trivial swing.  The deal is, it doesn’t happen that often, certainly not every day of the week like happens in Long Sleeve and Shorts season in New England.  And in Texas it’s completely predictable, often down to the very hour when it will happen.  So Texans go off to work and school in their Hot season clothes, and the ones who are paying attention to the forecast in the morning, drag along their huge puffy winter commuter coats, and they’re fine.  The ones who weren’t paying attention do high-speed sprints from the building to the car and then sit there for five minutes, turning the heat on full-blast until their bare legs recover their color and feeling.

It doesn’t happen often enough in Texas for there to be a proper season for it.  Here, though, I have three choices for the day: waffle henley, rugby shirt, or t-shirt.  The shorts are a given.

I Can’t See You From Where I’m Standing


I encountered a person yesterday with whom I *should* have common ground, but realized pretty quickly that I don’t. He had a team of Belgians in harness. Horse workers, horse people, the common ground here ought to be the horses. I met them, admired them, and mentioned that I’d done some work for the local draft-horse rescue/sanctuary.

“Those are trash horses” he said, immediately.
My eyebrows shot up into my hairline.
“They should all be at the kill pen.” he added.
The rest of the conversation went along the lines of what a waste of time it was that they have these horses who can’t work any longer, and how they ought to just be sent out for slaughter.

I got out of this conversation as soon as I possibly could, and went off to Ponder and Cogitate.

On a personal level, I take people where I find them.  I don’t often Judge, because even if someone has what I regard as an untenable position, it’s usually pretty easy to see how they might have arrived at this position, and why it makes sense. People are who people are.  This one, though, it really stuck in my craw.

Possibly because The Wonder Horse was obtained at an auction, and the other bidder was someone presumably there to collect future horse meat.  If my trainer hadn’t been there, hadn’t been paying attention, hadn’t been willing to take a chance, I wouldn’t be having any Wonder Horse.  The Wonder Horse would have been sent off in a trailer full of terrified, sick, old, lame horses to be penned up in a terrifying manner, and would have been slaughtered, with terror pouring through his brave heart.

Fuck that shit.

The more I thought about this guy and his perspective, the more I thought, and the more strongly I thought, exactly that:  Fuck that shit.  Fuck that asshole, and everyone like him.

I can understand having a professional relationship with horses.  I can understand not being able to afford to keep horses around that can’t help earn their keep.  Horses are expensive.  The only thing that is in their same league, as far as Pure Expensiveness, is kids.  They cost a bundle, and for someone who needs to earn their livelihood through the work of horses, I can totally understand that you can’t keep them if they can’t help pay.

But to state that at the point when they can no longer pay, they should be sent off and slaughtered, in fear and terror?  Fuck that shit.

What I wish I had the moxie to say to this guy is this:  Those horses give you everything. they. have. you asshole.  How dare you treat another living creature as if it was some kind of THING to use up, and then throw away when you’re tired of it, or it can’t give you any more.  It’s another being, with thoughts, and feelings, and a soul, and energy of its own.  A creature. Not a thing.  And you take everything they have, and when they can’t give you any more, you cast them off into the pit of hell.  Fuck that shit.

You can’t support an animal who has given you everything it had?  You find another home for it, you jerk.  And if you can’t find another home for it, it’s too damaged from your taking what it had to offer, or it’s too old, or too sick, you fucking get your vet out, and you fucking pay to have that animal euthanized in the security of its own home.  You don’t send it off to be frightened, and terrorized, and abused.  And you SURE as hell don’t talk a bunch of smack about people who are cleaning up after the mess you made by irresponsible treatment of your animals. Fuck that shit.

I don’t often judge, but after I thought about this guy, I realized I was more than happy to judge him and his ilk all the way down into the hands of satan.  If there is a satan.  You just don’t go around treating other living beings like trash.  I don’t give a damn what species they are.  You treat them with kindness, and sensitivity, and you treat them humanely.  You don’t throw them away when you’re done using them.  You don’t subject them to agony when they can’t make you happy any more.

There are words for this kind of behavior where I come from.  “Asshole” is the first one on the list, and it just goes downhill from there.  I don’t know that I’d actually be able to find enough words to reflect the degree of contempt and scorn I have for a subhuman life-form who could take this position.

Fuck that shit.