shire horses

The field on the left used to hold horses. Driving by on my way to Naughton, I slowed and glanced and smiled when I saw them. Sometimes, on the way back (when the field was on the right), I'd pull over and stand by the fence and they would wander over, hoping I had a snack for them. Their breath heavy, they'd mumble and mutter their horsey chat and nuzzle and batter my shoulders, hoping I would draw from my pocket a sugar cube, a polo mint, or a carrot. I never remembered to bring a snack, and as I got back into my car they no doubt wondered why I bothered to visit at all. I thought they were Clydesdales; they were certainly some manner of shire horse. Long manes hid their eyes and shaggy hair adorned their dinner platter-sized feet.

A few years ago I drove by and the shire horses were gone. As time passed the field on the left filled with trailers and now there is a small hamlet of shoeboxes on breeze blocks. It's a stark contrast to the surrounding countryside, especially when compared to the previous residents. This development lacks a deft touch. The land still looks like a building site and seems a tumour amongst the surrounding scenery.

Passing last month I noticed the next plot colonised as well. More trailers, more breeze blocks, more mud and more detritus strewn across raw earth instead of grass. Walls and an entrance gate far more grand than what they guard had been erected.

I could turn this into a metaphor about the passage of time; a resentful missive on how progress is a mixed blessing. I could draw contrasts of my own hopes and dreams and the stark realities they bump up against. How life is so rarely what we imagine it should be, and regardless of what's in our heart, the world moves on whether we like it or not. Those things are all true. The connections are all there in my head. But in the midst of all that is sadness. My heart sinks a bit when I drive by the field on the left now. Shoeboxes stood on breeze blocks are a poor replacement for horses stood on shaggy feet.