For Each Other
Maggie Van Ostrand
living things are meant for each other,
whether it be a caballo and a canine,
or a lady and a lake.
choosing to live south of the border are often surprised that the romance of Mexico
isn't limited to its people.|
Of the many lovely experiences during my
first years in San Antonio Tlayacapan, which is on the north shore of Lake Chapala
and not very far from Guadalajara, one favorite story is about a brown stallion
named Lassie. Why he was given that name is anybody's guess. I recall wondering
at the time if he might be gay.
Lassie's home was an adjoining plot of
land whose stoney dirt was sparsely populated with a blade or six of grass, and
one lone tree. Our property was separated by a chain link fence which played an
important role in the Romeo-and-Juliet-like drama which was to unfold.
One of my dogs, a female Siberian Husky named Ninotchka, immediately and wildly
fell in love with the horse. This was quite something, since Ninotchka is an aloof
creature who chooses to associate only with other Huskies, the occasional Malamute,
and my longtime Ajijic buddy from New York, Tom Faloon.
From the minute
dog met horse, it was true love. It might've even been obsession since, for the
first time, Ninotchka refused to come when called, insisting instead on remaining
at the fence and French kissing Lassie through the openings between the chain
links. Lassie was even more intensely enamoured and kissed back with a tongue
longer than the red carpet on Oscar night. Doubting human friends came to witness
this phenomenon and walked away true believers.
Soon Lassie's enthusiasm
broke all boundries of civilized behavior and his ardor was aroused for all to
observe. He whacked frantically at the fence for immediate admittance, leaving
hoof dents in the chain link as mute evidence of his passion. Those depressions
in the fence are still there because I recently looked.
Lassie was, it seemed,
frequently without water or food. Being the kind and caring (spelled n-o-s-y)
person that I am and, since he was practically my son-in-law, I filled water buckets,
lowering them by rope over the fence. They should have named that horse "quick
draw" because he slurped the entire contents with one pull, requiring my frequent
return to the spigot for refills.
Since what I know about horses you
could easily put in your eye and still have room left over for a dozen contact
lenses, but recalling the eating habits of television's Mr. Ed, I repaired to
the local ex-patriate market, returning with a carton of Quaker Oats and a carrot.
Lassie must have taken lessons from Seabiscuit for, when he caught sight
of the carrot sticking out of the groceries, he raced at me so fast, I hastily
hurled everything over the fence in a panic, and he all but inhaled not only the
contents, but the bag they came in.
I respectfully asked for and was
granted permission to continue feeding and watering Lassie by the owner, who was
father to a schoolmate of my housekeeper's son. Next day, on Lassie's side of
the fence, mysteriously appeared a magnificent carved stone basin. I learned that
Lassie's owner had said, "If the Señora is kind enough to feed our horse, she
should have something beautiful to put the food in."
Encouraged, I found
a feed store in town which delivered hay. I'm certain Lassie appreciated this
nutritional improvement, since he had been enjoying his Quaker Oats dry. ("Got
What's Romeo- and Juliet-like about this story? After returning to the states
on a writing assignment, I learned that Lassie had been sold to someone in Chapala,
though I have been unsuccessful in attempts to locate him. I hope he is happy.
My dog never loved again. I've often wondered what their offspring might've
looked like, had the separations in the chain links been large enough to accommodate
Lassie's rising desire for Ninotchka.
Our California mountain cabin is
near the village stables and, to this day, the only time Ninotchka springs into
action is at the sight of a horse, any horse. She does not rest until she has
sniffed to her satisfaction that it is not Lassie, and dejectedly turns away.
Certain living things are meant for each other, whether it be a caballo and
a canine, or a lady and a lake.
Copyright Maggie Van Ostrand
Balloon In Cactus" August 2003 Column