Tuesday, June 30, 2009

On Strike

The little horse has been on strike until the writer catches up the story to the present. Stay tuned--the writer is gathering energy to tell a sad and mysterious tale and to continue the story of the little horse.

Monday, April 28, 2008

The Story Resumes

“You’re taking an awful long time to tell this story,” Bel Canto said to me one day. “I think you should hurry up. My brother has been stuck in that backpack for weeks, years, practically, and you haven’t advanced his story one bit. If you don’t tell it, I will.” When Bel stamped her tiny hoof she reminded me of her brother, the little horse.

But she is right. It is time to move on with this story, since I am quite behind in the action. It’s just that it is so sad….

When we left off, the little horse was trying to nap in the pocket of the backpack. Finally they came to the parking lot at the base of the trail. The plan was to leave one car at the base of this trail and one at the bottom of the trail they would come down. It was a little bit like the riddle of the fox and the chickens and the rowboat. How could you get everybody at the bottom of the same trail and have one car at the bottom of the other trail? Here is how they did it—Brad and Jonathan and Jake left the girls, the old people, and the little horse at the base of the trail. Then they drove both cars to the bottom of the other trail. They left one car there and the three boys drove back in the other, parked, and caught up with the rest of the climbers in about an hour. “How humiliating,” thought the little horse, who had struggled to climb this far with his big head start.

He had enjoyed the trail, it’s wonderful scents, tasty nibbles of young ferns and velvety moss, the sounds of a brook nearby. But he struggled to climb over boulders bigger than he was. He tripped over tree roots. He got mired in the mud. And he was scared of the bear poop that they found on the trail, full of blueberries. “But it could be full of little horse remains if we are not careful,” thought the little horse, his skin shivering as if he were shaking off flies.

The little horse did not object when he was tied into the pocket of the backpack. He could still enjoy all the sights of the trail, but now he could rest his tiny legs.

After all, he practically had to gallop to keep up with Kristen and Caitlin as they walked. On and on they plodded. He did not object when they stopped to rest beside the mountain stream.

He was happy to taste the clear, cold water. But he was careful not to fall into the swift current.

Caitlin and Kristen were fun to hike with. They sang songs and told jokes and liked to stop to smell the Indian pipe flowers along the trail.

It felt good to be able to climb out of the backpack and stretch his legs after a long ride in the pocket of the backpack.

Several times he was tempted to ask, “Are we there yet?” But the fact that they were still in the woods told him they were not. On and on, on and on. The boys were far ahead. Eventually the girls were far ahead and the little horse was stuck in the backpack of an old person (myself!) Always looking backwards made the little horse’s tummy feel queasy. A little nibble on some partridge berry and a cool sip of water helped to settle his stomach.

At last they came to the Mizpah Springs hut. This is where they would spend the night. The little horse was so exhausted from all the climbing and all the fresh air that he fell asleep in the middle of dinner and had to be put to bed. He missed the traditional cut-throat game of hearts played by the cousins and Brad.

[Thanks to John, the other old person, for the great pictures.]

Saturday, March 15, 2008

The Little Horse Hits the Trail

The little horse woke bright and early the next morning. He was raring to go. But he had to wait while Cailtin and Kristen and all the other cousins made steak sandwiches and packed cheese and crackers and peanut butter and gorp and candy bars and grapes and water bottles and on and on. The little horse stamped his hoof. Why can’t they eat on the trail, like me? he wondered.

At last Caitlin swooped him up and put him on her shoulder. The little horse and all the loaded backpacks were carried to the car. The little horse found himself tucked into a side pocket of a red pack and stuffed in the back of a van and they were off! The actual packing and driving were not quite as exciting as he had hoped, but he was committed now. There was no turning back. They were driving north to the base of Mount Webster.

The little horse settled into the pocket of the backpack. He tried to nap, but he could hear the excited laughter of the cousins as they drove. This was Caitlin’s and Kristen’s first overnight climb. “Well, it’s my first, too,” thought the little horse, “but you don’t hear me making such a racket.”

Monday, March 10, 2008

The Little Horse Says Goodbye to the Bookshelf

For a few days the little horse seemed to change. He seemed content with the quiet life on the bookshelf. He even studied his French lessons. Bel began to hope that he had gotten over his urge to travel. But she was wrong.

One morning the little horse went from nose to nose, nuzzling his father, his mother, the pinto pony, even the au pair. He came to Bel last. “Good bye, Bel,” he wickered. “I’m leaving for New Hampshire. I’m traveling in a backpack once more. In three days I will be at the Red House. I’ll miss you.”

Bel’s heart sank. She heard his words, but she could tell that this was not just “good bye for now.” Her big brown eyes grew moist. “I wanted you to wait for me to be old enough to travel with you.”

“You know mother won’t let you travel on your own. I can’t wait any longer. I am off, off, off! I can’t wait to taste wild blue berries, sphagnum moss, reindeer lichen. I’m going on the big climb with Kristen and Caitlin. Back to the mountains! Good bye! Good bye!”

For three days the little horse lived in a backpack and traveled in a car. At last they reached the Red House. There were Caitlin and Kristen. There were all the other cousins. Soon everyone was busy packing for the big climb. Even the little horse had to carry his own blanket and feed dish. Tomorrow they would leave for the mountains and the big climb. Tomorrow his biggest adventure ever would begin. The little horse spent the night sleeping on top of the backpacks. He did not want to be left behind in all the excitement.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

The Little Horse Rebels

The little horse had a bug in his ear. He talked every day about the mountains of New Hampshire, the wonderful vistas, the sweet smell of the woods, the taste of wild blue berries and cold mountain streams, the soft pine-needle-covered trails. He wanted to scramble over the granite crags. To feel the wind in his mane and tail.

“But you only just got home,” wailed Bel Canto. “It’s so lonely here when you are gone. And the au pair makes me study twice as hard. She makes me study for two.”

“You can play with the pinto pony, “ said the little horse.

“He’s always napping,” Bel said.

“Well, I can’t stay here on the shelf,” insisted the little horse. “I’ll go mad.”

“Don’t be dramatic,” chided the au pair.

“See what I mean?” he whispered to Bel. “I can’t even say what I think without somebody sticking her long nose where it’s none of her business.” Bel was shocked by how rude the little horse was being.

The little horse became more and more unruly. “I can’t do anything with him,” complained the au pair to his mother. “He just rolls his eyes at me whenever I chastise him. He is unteachable. He reads the most inappropriate books and when I suggest he attend to his lessons he stalks off to the other end of the bookshelf. He won’t even study his French!”

“I’m afraid he is breaking free of this sedentary life,” his mother answered. “I had hoped that a trip to France would put an end to his wanderlust, but it seems to have made it worse. Our little horse is growing up. He wants to seek his fortune.”

The au pair shook her head. “Some little horses should be grateful that they do not need to seek their fortunes. There are big bad wolves in the world still. And this little horse is the type who would build a house of straw and think himself safe.”

Bel Canto listened to this conversation with growing concern. She trotted across the bookshelf to where the little horse stood, next to the waving kitty.

“Promise me,” she said, “that you won’t leave me alone on this shelf again.”

The little horse looked at Bel with his large dark eyes. He blew warm air out of his wide nostrils. “I can’t promise that,” he told her. “I have to go to the mountains in New Hampshire.”

Bel’s ears went limp. Her nose drooped to the ground. She dragged her hooves as she slowly walked back to the other side of the shelf where the au pair was waiting to review her lessons. “Don’t pay him any mind,” the au pair huffed. “He’s just jockeying for attention. Bel did not reply, but she did not think the au pair was right.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

On the Bookshelf

Bel Canto was overjoyed to have her brother home again. “Bon jour, my little cabbage,” she said to him each morning.

“Bon jour my little rabbit,” le petit cheval would respond.

“Tell me about exploring Monet’s garden,” Bel would beg.

But eventually the little horse became tired of reliving his adventures for his sister. He began to pace the bookcase, to read strange books with titles like The Last Place on Earth or Fatal Shore.

“I don’t think these books are appropriate reading for a little horse,” said the au pair and she tried to make him read The Penderwicks. But when she wasn’t paying attention to him he would be back to reading about Antarctica and Australia, lands as foreign as could be from the bookshelf.

“Someone should put a stop to this daydreaming and scheming,” complained the au pair. “If he were my little horse, I would put my hoof down.”

But the little horse had made a plan. “I want to go to New Hampshire,” he said. “I want to go on the big climb, the one with Caitlin and Kristen,” he told his mother. His mother shook her mane, but he persisted. “I want to see the mountains again. I belong in those mountains,” he reminded her. “New Hampshire is my first home.”

“Do you remember what happened to Bel Canto when she was young?” said his mother. “She was attacked by a fierce chipmunk. He bit off her ear and she has scars on her coat.”

“But mother, I was the one who rescued her,” said the little horse. “And Mayo the cat.”

“That cat was a match for any chipmunk. But facing a wild chipmunk on your own is a different story,” was his mother’s answer.

“I would kick any chipmunk that tried to mess with me from here to kingdom come,” said the little horse.

“Of course you would,” said his mother, who knew when it was pointless to argue.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

The Last Days in France

Then came the day to leave Normandy for Paris. The little horse enjoyed first class train travel. But he knew his trip would soon be over. A quick tour of the Picasso museum. One last night in Paris. And it was off to the airport. Never had the little horse seen such a traffic jam. The minutes ticked away as the taxi cab crawled along the highway at a pace even a little horse could have beaten. And finally came the long, long wait at the airport; the long, long flight over the Atlantic ocean; the long, long lines as they cleared customs in the US. The four traveling companions said good-by to each other and to the little horse, and at last he was home, back to Bel Canto, his mother and father, the pinto pony, and his au pair. What stories he had to tell. What adventures he had had. How soundly he slept, on his own bookshelf.

“Perhaps he has come home to stay,” said his mother. “Perhaps he has had enough adventures for one little horse?”

“I should think so,” said the au pair.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Le Petit Cheval becomes homesick

The food and the sights in Normandy were wonderful, but the little horse grew restless. He wandered down a country lane, gazing at the beautiful countryside.

He tasted a turnip.

He sniffed a poppy.

He thought he spied some relatives.

He missed his mother.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

The Little Horse Discovers a Norman Castle

The little horse and his four old traveling companions were staying at an old farmhouse that had been converted into a wonderful hotel. It had a long and exciting history, including being part of the D-Day invasion of France during World War II. And the little horse was thrilled to find that veterans from the US army were staying at the hotel to commemorate the invasion. He listened to their stories and studied the lined faces of the actual participants. He even tried out an army jeep.

After a full day of sight-seeing the little horse and his companions strolled on the beach at Normandy. There were still remnants of the British landing force sitting in the water off the beach. But the little horse discovered something else—an ancient Norman castle, just his size.

He was about to invade it when it was time to leave. He was carried away in ignominious fashion, much to his dismay. Where was the jeep when he needed it?

Monday, December 03, 2007

Le Petit Cheval Invades Normandy

Bel looked at the packet of pictures over and over again. She was fascinated by all the standing stones at Carnac. But there was more to see. Her brother wrote that he had taken a long drive in a rented car. It was a Prius hybrid, he wrote, with automatic transmission and none of the French people at the rental agency knew how to drive it and neither did the old travelers. He had had to show everyone how all you had to do was press the button and the car turned on. There was no gear shift—just a lever that you moved up to drive forward and down to drive backward. Once they knew how to operate the car, the little horse and the four old travelers piled into the car and drove off to Normandy.

The countryside was beautiful, he wrote to Bel. He loved the way the road ran right into the little towns, and then out again, into fields of beautiful farms. After a long day of travel they came to an amazing sight—Mont St. Michel. Mont St. Michel is an abbey built on an island off the coast of Normandy. When the tide is low you can walk across the mudflats to the island, but when the tide comes in you must stay on the causeway. The little horse could see Mont St. Michel for miles before the Prius rolled to a stop in the parking lot. It was near the end of the day and most people were leaving, which meant they were able to park quite close. Some of the older travelers got out to walk partway up the curving stone roads that led through the town and up to the abbey perched on the peak of the hill that is the island. Le Petit Cheval stayed behind to guard the car and all their luggage. What if some clever thief tried to take their suitcases? What kind of sight seeing would they be able to do with no change of underwear?

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Where has Le Petit Cheval disappeared to?

It seemed to Bel Canto that her brother, Le Petit Cheval, had been traveling for months. Bel waited for the mail to come each day. She kept hoping for pictures from her brother. One day the mail contained an envelope full of pictures for Bel. She pored over each one.

"Look!" she said to the Au Pair. "He's riding a scooter!"

"I see he is still in Paris," replied the Au Pair. "See, there is Notre Dame Cathedral again."

"But see here," said Bel. "Now he is in the countryside. Look at all those funny stones!"

"That is a famous place in Brittany," said the Au Pair. She had been reading up on France because Bel had been asking so many questions. She did not want to lose her job with the horse family, so she felt she needed to broaden her outlook, now that these little horses were broadening theirs.

"He writes that it is called Carnac," said Bel. "What a funny name for funny stones. Le Petit Cheval says that some people think the stones are Roman soldiers turned to stone by the sorcerers of Brittany. That doesn't make sense, does it? Le Petit Cheval says the stones were here long before the Roman Legions conquered Gaul. What’s Gaul?”
“Gallia est omnis divida in partes tres….All Gaul is divided into three parts….” quoted the au pair.

“Gaul is an ancient name for France,” said Bel’s father who was getting impatient with the pretensions of the au pair.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

“When do I get to have an adventure?” Bel Canto asked her mother one day. “I’m tired of waiting here on the bookshelf for postcards to come. When do I get to explore the world?”

Bel Canto’s mother snorted softly through her warm gray nostrils and shook her mane. “One explorer in the family is one too many,” she said.

Bel stamped her little hooves and flipped her tail into the air. But under her breath she muttered, “How come He gets to have all the fun?”

“Now where is he?” she asked out loud when the mail arrived.

The Au Pair sorted through the mail looking for postcards from Le Petit Cheval. “I believe he is still exploring Paris,” she said.

“He’s been in Paris for a week or more!” complained Bel. “Why doesn’t he come home?”

“Look,” said the Au Pair. “Here he is and that is Notre Dame Cathedral I see in the background.

“Where? Where is Le Petit Cheval?” cried Bell, looking at the photographs “I can’t see him.”

“Well,” said the Au Pair. “He is a very little horse.”

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Exploring Paris

Le Petit Cheval was beginning to feel quite at home on the streets and subways of Paris. He looked forward to each new day. Exploring art museums and famous sights like the Eiffel Tower, taking a sight-seeing cruise down the Seine—he felt he knew the layout of the city and how to get around. He felt his spotted coat went very well with the white stone architecture.

Everywhere were new and interesting things to contemplate. Toilets flushed in different ways with strange mechanisms. Cars were decorated with wonderful bouquets at weddings. Even construction was beautiful.

Monday, September 03, 2007

A Trip to Chartres Cathedral

The train ride to Chartres was not long and as soon as they walked out of the station they could see the cathedral high above the town. They walked on the old streets, with many other tourists, working their way closer and closer to the cathedral. It was beautiful when they reached the square in front of the two towers.

Le Petit Cheval, (as he was beginning to think of himself), enjoyed exploring the cathedral, with its amazing rose window and its beautiful architecture. But what he liked best was eating chocolate mouse at the small yellow restaurant across the street from the cathedral. There were bicycles attached to the walls of the restaurant just for decoration. Whoever would have thought of that?

A Lesson in French Etiquette

Gare Montparnasse is one of the train stations of Paris. There the four old Americans waited in the information line. As soon as they got to the front of the line, they asked, in English, when was the next train to Chartres. The man in the information booth smiled at these old Americans in a bored way. He winked at le petit cheval. He leaned his arms against the counter, sighed, and said, “bon jour, how are you?” Le Petit Cheval knew exactly what was going on here—this man, who works all day answering many questions for many people in many languages had decided to teach these four impatient Americans a lesson in French etiquette. He did not mind that the line was full of people. He just wanted to be treated like a person, not an information machine.

“First you say “bon jour,” the little horse wrote to his sister Bel Canto. “Then people are always friendly and helpful.” It was a lesson the little horse never forgot.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Le petit Cheval in Paris

After a full day of sightseeing le petit cheval was almost as tired as his four old companions. He did not object when Sallie, the youngest of the old ones, carried him in her leather back pack to a café not far from their hotel on the Rive Gauche. This café was near the Sorbonne, a very old university. Sallie and Le Petit Cheval settled themselves at a small round table, just on the edge of the sidewalk. Sallie sipped a dark red drink with a slice of orange in it. Le Petit Cheval had a cup of hot cocoa. Sitting in cafes, nursing a drink or a cup of espresso coffee is one of the great pleasures of Paris, he discovered. They relaxed, and Sallie made a small sketch in watercolor of the wonderful white buildings across the street. All too soon it was time to join the other weary travelers for dinner. One thing he could count on, though--in France, dinner was always delicious.

Le Petit Cheval woke bright and early the next morning. He ate his breakfast of croissants and butter. He sipped his café au lait. He trotted up the four flights of stairs to the tiny room. He pawed the carpet. His coat shivered with anticipation. At last the four pokey old people were ready go. Proudly the little horse led them to the metro station. Proudly he showed them which train to take to get to the Gare Montparnasse. As they waited for the right train to arrive the little horse enjoyed watching the antics of a small dog on the platform opposite him. “The French take their dogs everywhere,” he wrote in his postcard to Bel Canto. “Even to restaurants.”

Monday, August 27, 2007

Le Petit Cheval in France--the photos

Dear reader, I am home at last and can once again post the photos of Le Petit Cheval in France. Here is the little horse in Monet's garden:

And here are the pansies he ate:

Monday, August 06, 2007

Le Petit Cheval in France

Giverny was wonderful. After the beautiful gardens they toured the house itself. It was full of Japanese prints, which highly influenced Monet and the other Impressionist painters of his time. The little horse particularly noted that some of the prints were in several parts, “triptychs,” which is a big word meaning in three pieces. The rooms were beautiful, but full of furniture and china and ropes to keep you out of them. Once again the little horse became impatient. “That could be his middle name,” said Bel Canto, his sister. “The little impatient horse.”

The next day was devoted to touring Paris itself. There is so much to see, and so little time to see it in. “And these grown ups are so pokey,” the little horse wrote to his sister on a postcard of Sainte Chapelle. He signed the postcard, “le petit chaval.” He liked his new name.

Sainte Chapelle is a small church nearly buried in the law courts in the middle of downtown Paris. It is blue and red and gold, painted all over on the inside in wonderful patterns. The ceiling has gold stars painted on a blue background. The stained glass windows are spectacular. Even Le Petit Cheval could have spent hours and hours staring at the beautiful carvings and paintings and the amazing windows. Reluctantly he bid farewell to the beautiful little chapel. Compared to Notre Dame, this was more his size.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

A trip to Monet's garden

My dear reader, I must digress in the telling of this story. Bel Canto and I are on vacation, away from our usual computer and without access to the photos and tools we usually use to compose the narrative. You must indulge me, please, reader, and put your imagination to work because there will be no pictures to accompany these stories for a few weeks.

When I left off, the little horse, Le Petit Cheval, was asleep in the bottom of the leather back pack. He slept soundly through the night and was chagrinned to wake up on the little shelf in the little room in the Hotel Minerve the next morning. Here he was in Paris and he had slept through the visit to the Eiffel Tower.

But today was another exciting day. Le Petit Cheval enjoyed his breakfast, as usual. He was hungry as a horse, having missed dinner the night before. After breakfast he accompanied his traveling companions to the train station. They were going to see Monet’s gardens at Giverny. It involved a train ride, a bus rise, and then a walk. The countryside was beautiful, despite the intermittent rain. The little horse just thought the rain made the greens of the countryside look greener. He did not mind a little rain. It rolled off his back. But the gardens at Giverny! This was something to see. There was a large pond, with lots of lily pads, but no blooms yet—too early in the summer. A wonderful little bridge arched over the narrow part. He trotted up and down it, enjoying the sounds his hooves made on the wooden bridge. Suddenly a fat tourist spotted him. “Oh look at the little horse,” she cried and she nearly stepped on him trying to catch him. The little horse ran for all his might and leaped into a bed of pansies. He nearly disappeared under the orange and purple blossoms. “Come on, Lovey,” said the woman’s husband. “We haven’t got time to mess with little horses. It’s time to eat.”

So the little horse was saved by the skin of his teeth and the super sizing of America. And he had discovered something for himself. Did you know that pansies are edible? He thought they were delicious, especially the purple ones. Then once again he found himself scooped up and plopped in the leather backpack. He was becoming used to traveling this way, but he thought it lacked dignity and he had a hard time seeing. And he had nibbled on so many pansies that he began to feel seasick.

“Someday,” he thought to himself, “I will explore on my own, all by myself, and no one will put me in a backpack ever again.” But for now, he had no choice.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Outdoors at last

The Louvre was interesting. Le petit cheval enjoyed many of the pictures. But he longed for fresh air, for the sights and sounds of Paris, the most beautiful city in the world—or so he had been told by his au pair.

At last the four old travelers decided they had had enough of museums for one day. The little horse galloped ahead of them to the exit. He could hardly wait. But then he was swooped up and put in a leather backpack. At first he could peer over the top, but his little legs grew tired of holding on and he slid to the bottom of the pack. Jet lag had caught up with him at last. As the four old people watched the Eiffel Tower lights shine over Paris, the little horse snored in the bottom of the backpack.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

At the Louvre

The Louvre is a famous museum full of wonderful art. The entrance is through a glass pyramid, next to a fountain. The little horse thought about swimming, but the weather was quite chilly, even though it was almost summer.

The little horse was not sure he wanted to spend his time in a museum, but once he got through the security line he began to see what great art was all about. All around him were famous statues and paintings, ones he had seen in books.

As he followed the crowds down a long corridor, his little hooves made a tap-tap-tapping sound on the mosaic floors. He peered through a grated archway into a storage room. It was packed with treasures from other lands and other times, waiting to be put on display.

At the end of a long hallway, up several flights of stairs, he could see one of the most famous statues in the world, Nike of Samothrace. He knew the shoes were named for this statue and he could see that the swoosh was drawn from her wings. The beauty of this statue made him think of his sister, Bel Canto. How she would enjoy touring the Louvre. Bel would probably like traveling with four slow-poke old people. She wouldn’t be impatient to move quickly from one gallery to the next. He was eager to see the paintings by Leonardo DaVinci.

The little horse gave a whinny of impatience. “Mon petit cheval,” said a uniformed guard. “No whinnying in the museum.” And that is how the little horse got his nick-name, Le petit cheval. As-tu vu le petit cheval? (That means, have you seen the little horse?)

Saturday, June 30, 2007

At Last, the Adventure, Such as it Is, Begins

The first great thing the little horse was able to experience was a French breakfast. Croissants. French bread. The freshest, most delicious butter in the world. Café au lait.
It was almost as good as oats.

Then off the little horse went, with his four elderly companions, to figure out the metro system. Paris has a wonderful subway system—you can get anywhere on it. And each train line has its own color so the maps are not too hard to read. The little horse waited impatiently, pawing his hoof, as the grown-ups studied the maps. What was taking them so long? He had figured out the route to the Louvre ages ago.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Are We There Yet?

That is how the little horse found himself tucked into a backpack, squeezed under a seat, on an overcrowded plane flying to Charles DeGaulle Airport in France. The flight left at 6 o¹clock at night and arrived at 9:20 in the morning, but only took eight and one half hours. How could that be?

The little horse whinnied and pawed at the backpack. He was eager to be loose and on his own. But the grownups would not let him roam. He had to wait in the backpack for the van to drive them to the Hotel Minerve on the Left Bank. At last Sallie, the youngest of the very old adults, unzipped the pack and let him out in the hotel room. It was a very tiny room, just the right size for a little horse, perhaps, but awfully small for two grown up people and their suitcases. The little horse took up residence on the bedside shelf that was just big enough for him and a book.

He was determined to finish Mademoiselle Misfortune. He thought he might find some good advice in it for traveling with old people. Here he was, filled with energy for a day of exploring, but the old people seemed to be going to bed before the day had begun! And can you believe--they were watching TV. The French Open was underway. What would you rather do--explore a beautiful city like Paris or watch tennis on TV in a language you can¹t speak?

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Friday, May 18, 2007

Strange Traveling Companions

The little horse was hoping that Lou and Pete would also go to France. He had enjoyed his time in Mexico with the boys, especially Lou, who spent more time doing things and less time sleeping and watching TV. But, alas, the boys had lives of their own to lead and traveling to France was not on their calendars.

The little horse found himself packing to travel with four adults. Not only adults, but OLD adults, ones with gray hair. “Well,” said Bel Canto, when he told her he thought it was strange. “You’ve got a lot of gray hair yourself.”

The little horse snorted at her and rolled her eyes. “But that’s different,” he said. “My hair has always been gray.”

“And white and spotted black,” added Bel Canto. The little horse just snorted at her and rolled his eyes again.

But he was excited to be packing for another trip to a foreign land. He could hardly wait to explore the city of Paris, setting for the beginning of the book Mademoiselle Misfortune. He hoped he could finish the book before they left.

Thursday, May 10, 2007


The little horse rarely paid attention to the people who lived in the bedroom where the bookshelf was. But one day the book MADEMOISELLE MISFORTUNE, disappeared from the shelf. The little horse was not yet finished with the story. He began to watch the activity in the room, and to listen to what was being said. Someone was planning a trip, a trip to France. Here was his chance. They had taken him to Mexico. Perhaps he could go to France.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

An Admonition

His mother listened to all the stories the little horse told, but she could tell he was leaving some parts out. The little horse did not want to mention how thirsty he had gotten, how foolishly he had wandered into the desert without supplies, precautions, or companions.

When the little horse asked if he could go on another adventure, his mother had something to say about it. “I think you are not as ready for adventure as you believe you are. A little horse on the loose in the wide world can get hurt,” she told him. “If you are going to go wandering all over the world, you will need to go with someone who has a little more experience than you have had so far. Someone with common sense. Someone a bit older.”

The little horse stamped his hooves and shook his main, but his mother was adamant. No more wandering off on his own. Just because he had existed in the world a long time, she said, he was not as grown up as he thought he was.

Restlessly the little horse paced back and forth on the bookshelf. He peeked in one book and then another, but he could hardly concentrate. The only book that held his attention was called Mademoiselle Misfortune. It was an old book, but it was full of good humor and adventure as well. It took place in France. How he longed to visit France! He begged the au pair to teach him to speak French. She tried to oblige, but her French was quite rusty. “bonjour” and “au revoir” and “merci beaucoup” were about all she remembered. And “ou est le toilette?”

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Return to the Bookshelf

The little horse returned to his family on the bookshelf. Bel Canto was waiting for him, wearing the necklace he had brought her from his adventure in Mexico. She was eager to hear all about his adventures in California. The little horse told her about the desert, about the prickly pears that weren’t really pears, the dinosaurs that were really lizards. “Were they Gila Monsters?” asked Bel Canto.

“Well,” said the little horse, “I can’t be sure for certain. But they might have been. I didn’t stick around to find out!”

Bel Canto laughed when he described the flamingos and how rude they had been to him. “I would have just knocked them over on their pink stumpy tails!” she said.

Friday, April 06, 2007

An Adventure Cut Short

The little horse scampered along the trail ahead of the rest of the group. He felt he could walk forever. He found little bits of greenery to nibble. Some of the leaves were tough, but they were not full of spines and thorns as everything in the desert had been. He enjoyed the bitter, tangy taste of laurel. The mosses were soft and mushy as he chewed them. But he never stopped for long. The trail called him onward.

At last he came to the open rock face that the park ranger had described. He could see a bare rocky point off in the distance, and behind that, a range of mountains. How he longed to continue onwards. But they had gotten a late start. There was a long drive back to the hotel, and they did not want to be on that windy mountain road in the dark. Everyone except the little horse agreed that this was as far as they could go.

The little horse sighed. He gazed out at the mountain ridge. He vowed that someday he would live in mountains again and never have to go home if he didn’t want to.

Monday, April 02, 2007

A Dream Come True, Almost

The hotel and the resort seemed very tame after his adventure in the desert. The little horse grew tired of sitting by the pool. He did not like the walk around the resort. He had to be very careful not to get hit by golf balls, and the concrete paths were hard on his hooves. The flamingos still laughed at him whenever he walked out the front of the hotel. The little horse ignored them and held his tail high, his ears pricked forward, but he could feel himself blush as they squawked at him.

On the last day of his travels the little horse accepted an offer to go for a drive to explore the high country behind the resort. To his great delight the car drove higher and higher into the rocky country until at last they were on a mountain pass. Up and up wound the road. The scenery changed from barren dessert with cactus and scrub to green fields and pastures to towering green forests. The little horse trotted from one side of the car to the other, taking it all in. He was driving into the mountains.

They stopped at a little mountain village everyone got out of the car. They walked around the town a little bit. Someone bought candy and gave the little horse a bite. It was delicious—home-made fudge, his favorite. They found the ranger station and asked if there were hiking trails nearby. The little horse’s ears pricked forward. He could not believe his good luck! Hiking in the mountains!

The little horse started off on the trail. Up and up it wound. The altitude was high already. He was careful not to push forward too fast because he ran out of breath if he hurried. The day at the hotel had been warm, but this air was crisp and clean and cool. Soon the little horse found himself walking through patches of snow. He nibbled at the snow and kicked it into the air with his front hooves. Then he lay down in the snow and rolled! It was cold, but it felt so good!