Flo lived in the woodshed in secret before revealing herself to Maria and I during a snowstorm. She is my cat, really, she sleeps in my lap when she can, sits by me when she can. She reminds me to reveal myself, to learn who I am, to accept it and to be proud of it. Like many good people, I spent most of my life trying to figure out how to get inside of the tent, I am spending the rest of it celebrating the idea that I am where I belong. Flo's winters are warmer now.
"Every day, with each photo, the messages
trickle in for me, sometimes pour like a stream.
"Poor thing, he looks so cold.."
"Poor thing, he looks so sad…"
"Poor thing, he wants to be inside.."
How grateful then, I am,
that I cannot speak human,
for I might speak words I would regret,
might say something angry and cruel,
like people do,
and that is not the way of the dog,
or of my brothers and sister, the horses
and the elephants and the cows."
Why do they put their human things,
their weaknesses and frailties,
into my cup, project their
human sorrows onto me?,
sitting at their screens,
in their big houses in barren cities,
I am no poor thing, I would say,
this is what my God meant for me to do,
from the beginning of recorded time,
this is how he made me, filling my soul
with the love of work, the love of life.
If I had words, I might say,
How awful it would be for me,
to be locked inside, warm and dry,
empty, growing fat and dumb so
you can feel good about yourselves,
while the work of the world went unattended,
just outside of my door,
If you had your way,
my spirit would wither and die,
while my beloved and helpless human
stumbled so slowly and awkwardly around,
in the cold and the dark.
I am no one's poor thing, working alongside of people
is my joy and my sacrament,
for me, for the horses,
it is the sacred place.
We helped make the world possible,
we do it still,
Do not ever dare to pity me,
or feel sorry for me,
I am not you,
your weak and helpless thing,
or your child, your cheap way
to feel good.
There is no greater happiness or
purpose for me, that is what I would say,
if I could speak.
Happy thing, I am living my life."
The New York Carriage Horses have drawn me closer to the world of horses, and to their powerful and ancient connection to human beings. This is a natural extension of my work with animals, the New York Carriage Trade is carrying their torch right now, fighting for the right of horses to be acknowledged and respected and to remain in our world. The horses speak to me often, they are a part of my life, and of Maria's. I believe we will have a horse again here on the farm one day, perhaps soon.
I get letters, e-mails and cards from horse people from all over the country and the world now, this one came around Christmas, and I just put it up on the Windowsill Gallery, it is home-made and all the more beautiful for that.
The Winter Festival at Hubbard Hall is catching on, the plays are selling out there, drawing a full house even in chilling winter weather. The crowds – pulled by strong word-of-mouth for all of the plays and productions, are changing the dynamic of my play, they are laughing harder at the humor, feeling the sorrow and challenge more deeply. The actors are figuring out their characters and getting more confident and sure. Exciting.
I've made a big decision for me, I'm going to finish the play. Now, it is all set in a cow barn, I'm going to add scenes from a farm kitchen, from a Farm Prayer Group, and from the house of the farmer's son and grandson. This will flesh out the play, give it more depth and range. David is encouraging me to work on it and finish it, I don't need much encouragement, it is work of love for me.
I have been writing about displaced people my whole life as a writer, starting with my first novel "Sign Off," my first book. I am loving the work of all the actors, especially Christine Decker who plays a strong and powerful female character in her role as the farmer's wife. She will not let him sink. Lots of writing opportunities, my head is spinning as I think of the possibilities here, the opportunity to build on what I have written.
Creativity for me is about change, I am sometimes successful with change, sometimes night, but it is the essence of creativity to me. Stasis is a death of the creative spirit, I have to stay focused and determined and open to change. This is something Maria and I share deeply, I draw from it continuously, as, I think, does she.
I attended the third staged reading of "Last Days Of Maple View Farm" at Hubbard Hall this afternoon – going again tonight and then for the last show, tomorrow at 2 p.m., pre-Super Bowl and next winter storm. After each performance, Hubbard Hall Executive Director David Snider (second from left) calls the playwright and some of the actors up on stage to take questions from the audience.
The other people on stage wrote and performed Act One of "Wayward Ho,!" a timely and hip musical, we all took questions together, the two works are a good pairing, I think we have not seen the last of one another. It has been a tiring week, my flu and bronchial aftermath have steadily improved and except for some lingering viral bronchitis, I am feeling strong and healthy.
It has been an exhilarating week for me, I loved the way the play is coming together, David has encouraged me to finish it and offer it for production at Hubbard Hall or elsewhere. This is a play about the death of a dairy farm, and it is a community filled with dairy farms, many struggling, so the play hits especially close to home here. It's theme of how human beings come to terms with being discarded people – a common experience in the American workforce – is hitting home I believe.
Each performance is different, each crowd it different, the play is an organic and evolving thing. I definitely have gotten the playwright bug. I appreciate the wonderful things people are saying to me about it. Still, lots of work to do if it is to be completed and flushed out.