On my walk this morning, I listed the gifts of a broken heart.
- I am walking again, I am rediscovering my love of walking in nature, in the morning mist, through the woods. That was always my sport, my passion, it was lost but has been returned to me. As a result, I am losing weight, feeling strong. I did not know I was a healthy man.
- I learned everything I need to know about my body in the last month, I am sound and in rebirth.
- I see the power of friendship and connection, when your heart is broken, friendship reveals itself. Or not.
- I am reborn, I see the world anew, I am full of new plans and new ideas, life has sharper and richer meaning for me.
- Love is reaffirmed. Maria's love for me, and mine for her, has glowed these past few weeks, it is so rich and real and strong.
- I am taking responsibility for my life, tackling issues that need to be tackled, working with Maria so both of us can have a life of peace, meaning and creativity. I did not believe it could happen, I know it will happen.
- I am going to a famous diabetes clinic tomorrow, I will learn more about my diabetes and the best and most efficient ways to deal with it.
- My broken heart is healing. It was not badly damaged. It was saved in time. I understand that it will take me up to a year to fully recover from this, and I will learn the gift of patience and inner strength.
- I have been given the gift of my therapy dog, Red, he has turned his magic on to me.
- I am taking photos with more feeling and writing with more feeling, I believe. That is the gift of a healing heart.
It is easy enough to tell other people what they should be doing, I don't care for it when people tell me, I try not to do it to others. I talked to a friend in the carriage trade recently, she told me the owners and the drivers were frightened, discouraged, confused. They are back in limbo again, their families anxious, their futures uncertain.
The mayor announced he will ban the horses as soon as he can, then jetted off to Italy for a vacation. He refuses to talk to the carriage owners or drivers, he will not visit the stables. He dismissed 40,000 signatures on a petition to keep the horses as unimportant, and he and his staff have launched secret negotiations with the New York City Council to banish the horses, sent them to slaughter or rescue farms, put more than 300 people out of work. This would abruptly and arbitrarily end an industry that has thrived for 150 years without any kind of legal cause or due process or open hearing.
So it is that time, when good people have to decide for themselves how long to fight for their way of life, how hard to fight, how loudly to speak up for the injustice being done to them by the very government that is bound to protect them and their property. No one else can fight for them, others can only help. Many people in the carriage trade believe that if the mayor succeeds in getting the ban passed by the City Council, then it is all over, the fight to keep the horses with the people in New York City will be too difficult, complex and expensive. This is when the sunshine soldiers head home, I think, is how the history goes, the times that try and test men's souls. Horses and people will end their long and rich history of working together, such work banned from the country's greatest city.
I had this vision last night, perhaps the horses are speaking to me again, it has been awhile. Chief Avrol said I have been chosen by the horses to speak for them, and he is a revered and respected Sioux Chief, and I am just a writer on a small farm in upstate New York making noise with my books and my blog. I respect the Chief and I accept his word. This is what the horses told me, they shared a dream with me, a vision, and it is now mine, says the Chief. It has been given to me. I give it to you, and to the drivers.
In my dream, just after dawn, more than 200 horses suddenly appear in a line flowing from the avenues that surround the park. They form near the park's big entrances and trot together in a powerful and beautiful parade up 59th St. to the great entrance to the park at Sixth Avenue. There, the big horses line up and wait for riders.
At first, it seems they are coming to work, but it is too early for that, the early commuters are surprised, the police off guard. The horses are not permitted to work so early. But the horses do not pick up riders and tourists, my vision is quite different. This morning, there is a beautiful mist hanging over the park, it is just before the morning rush. The city is roaring to life, the police are setting up barricades to open up the park to the waves of traffic coming into the city. But the barricades will not be in place this morning. The horses have lined up across the entrance to the park, they are blocking traffic, snarling the cars and trucks and busses pouring across the city center.
The carriage drivers have found their voice. They have not given up, will not quit and give up their way of life.
The streets quickly fill with awe-struck people – residents, workers, commuters, tourists, children. None of them will ever forget the sight of the big horses, the statement they will make to the world that morning. We have the right to be here, among people. It is our destiny, our history.
The horses are impressive and beautiful, lined up in rows, their feather plumes bending in the wind. The big horses calm and steady, the drivers in their top hats, the startled police scrambling to unclog the jam around the park, they ask the horses to move, but they will not. The horses eat their oats, drink from the buckets of water laid out for them.
The commuters and pedestrians are in awe at the sight of all the big horses, steam pouring out of their nostrils, the whinnying sounds of them talking to one another, their hooves clip-clopping on the asphalt. The drivers have stepped out of their carriages, they have bound themselves to the carriage doors, they are carrying signs: "Talk To Us, Mr. Mayor, we are human beings!" "NY Class: No More Lies, No More Slander."" "Our horses are not abused or mistreated. Come see for yourself." "No justice, no ban." "Come Into The Open, Mr. Mayor, Tell The World What You Are Doing And Why!" "No More Secret Negotiations, No Kangaroo Courts." "We Will Not Be Banned!" "We Have Had Enough!" "You have no right to take our way of life from us!"
Within minutes, there are as many TV cameras as horses, much of the world's media lives and works a few minutes from the park. There are thousands of cell phones, video cameras, images of the horses are spreading quickly all over social media, all over the world. New Yorkers are stunned, the soft-spoken and camera-shy drivers have not spoken up before, they have always accepted the fact that other people will speak about them and for them. They have always trusted in a system that is supposed to work for them, but no longer does.
That has all changed this morning. The driver and owners and horses have gathered to shut down the great park and the traffic that normally swirls around it. They have gathered with the horses to say, enough. The horses must stay in New York. We seek justice. We have committed no crimes, broken no laws.
It is a beautiful scene in the park, surreal, colorful, inspiring. The long lines of horses are a remarkable thing to see, no one has ever seen anything like the long and regal lines of beautiful animals. There are lines of police now, they have cleared the streets around the horses, there are vast throngs of people watching, cheering, taking photos. The streets are filled with sirens, the police try to block off the streets, restore order, they are not sure what to do about hundreds of horses lined up across the southern end of Central Park.
The drivers talk with the people. They deserve to be talked with, spoken to, treated as human beings. They will no longer accept being dehumanized so they can be destroyed, thrown out of work, their way of life and livelihood and horses taken from them. They will no longer accept being slandered and libeled and ignored, they will find a way to fight back.
The horses line is impressive and impenetrable, they stand in silent protest for several hours, and when the police come to arrest the drivers, some agree to be taken to jail, others slowly begin to take the horses back to their stables. The horses will have a day off this day as New Yorkers awaken to the dramatic message of the morning: the men and women of the carriage trade have found their voice and sent the world a message. On this day, they speak for themselves, and their voice is heard in every corner of the great city.
In my dream, I am there, with my big camera, even if someone has to hold it for me. My vision, from the horses to you.
For all his focus and energy, Red is a patient creature. When I go outside, he walks quickly to the pasture gate, and sits down, and then watches me. Sometimes I am feeding the cats or chickens, sometimes watering the garden, sometimes sitting in the Adirondack chairs. Sometimes we go into the pasture and herd the sheep. There is a sense of expectation in Red's eyes, sometimes a look of eagerness, but mostly, he is patient. If I don't move to the pasture gate, he lies down and waits. Sooner or later, I will come there and we will herd the sheep, Red's faith in unshakeable.
The new and expanded Dahlia Garden at Bedlam Farm is a joy and a wonder. Maria dug out a whole new section and friends gave us all kinds of Dahlia's – red and yellow ones, blood red flowers – that are now beginning to come up. The Dahlia's grow high, offering shade and privacy to the area where we sit and are especially beautiful to look at. I love the way new things come up, I never even heard of Dahlia's until a year or so ago,and now we have a strong Dahlia garden, I am fond of this exotic and lush South American flower. The gratitude urn looks as if it grew there.
How lucky I have a garden like this, I am discovering gardening late in life. I can't do much of the physical work now, Maria does most of that, but I look forward to weeding in a couple of months and I do water them every day.