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Bud Grossmann’s
Words of the Week
for the Week of
November 20, 2016

Published as Family History
in a Gramma Letter
dated November 24, 1998

© 1998, 2016 by Bud Grossmann.
All Rights Reserved.

An Okay Corral (1989)
  An Okay Corral (1989)
© 1989 by Bud Grossmann


Tuesday, November 24, 1998

Dear Gramma,

      Thank God for horses. I’m thinking of six in particular—Misty, Mare, and Charlie; Huki, Thunder, and Tonka—the elderly equines at Olomana Ranch. My eleven-year-old daughter and I drive to Waimanalo once a week to haul water, serve Sunday’s supper, and measure out a meal of feed and supplements so it’s ready in buckets for breakfast on Monday morning. (Someone else will serve the breakfast; a lot of different folks share the work at this “old folks home” for horses.) The couple hours of chores leave us smudged and smelly, weary and achy—but thoroughly content. I’m not sure why I love the labor, but I do.

      Getting there is part of the pleasure—a half hour’s journey along the coast, where the air puts a taste of sea salt on my tongue. And I appreciate the father-daughter time, on the drive and at the ranch. The ranch is a pretty and peaceful place, with plenty of “character” in its assortment of rundown dwellings, sheds, and stalls. I love to look upon the rich, green pastures and the rutted road that disappears into a tunnel of trees, vines, and grasses. The ranch reposes below a grand, green-garbed wall of mountain whose top is almost always bedecked with clouds. The setting sun spreads a glorious gold throughout the sky.

      A dozen dogs—maybe more—lie about or lope about, sometimes getting into fights so vociferous that the horses are driven to distraction. Most of the dogs are long-time residents, but this past weekend a new one was on the scene—a big, bony, short-haired she-dog with little, light-lashed eyes and a nervous way about her. Her head had the triangularity of a pit bull; loose skin rippled beyond the corners of her mouth and made me think of the gills of a great white shark. I told Elizabeth to keep her distance, but she didn’t listen. Not, that is, until the animal began nosing and nibbling at horse poop in the pasture. The other dogs—Elizabeth told me, as she shook her head with disapproval—have a bit more class than that.

      Last Sunday afternoon was rainy, cold, and windy. Eliz and I wore the knee-high rubber boots routinely required by the nature of our toil. But when the drizzle turned into a downpour, we put on hooded rain jackets, too. The pasture and the horse stalls were pocked with soupy hoof-holes. That made cleaning the animal’s “feet” an interesting enterprise. Even on a dry day, I feel uneasy when I must persuade a half-ton of horseflesh to balance on three legs while I apply a metal pick to pry pebbles from the tender center of a hoof. Working on a slippery surface made it that much more of an adventure.

      With most of the horses, all we have to do is pinch gently above the fetlock and firmly say, “Foot! Foot!” Misty, however, won’t let me begin the process of cleaning her hooves until I’ve tugged on her ankle and slammed my shoulder into her ribs to get her to lean the other way. She’s big. I’d have no escape if she chose to tip over onto me and flatten me out on the ground. The danger is invigorating. The great, grubby body against my shoulder is oddly comforting.

      This Thursday, at Thanksgiving Dinner, I’ll probably be invited to say the grace. I suppose I’ll make it short and sweet. “Oh, Lord,” I’ll say, “for family, friends, and this fine food, we give you thanks. Amen.” That’s all I’ll say out loud. In the silence of my grateful heart, however, I’ll express my gratitude for a long list of blessings bestowed by God in the year since our last big turkey feast. Included in that inventory, somewhere near the top, will be the marvelous, messy, mysteriously satisfying once-a-week work at the horse farm.

      To you, Gramma, my family and I send our warmest wishes for a HAPPY THANKSGIVING DAY!


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