My friend Julia started the community art project BeastField.com. The gig is simple. Folks send in a photo of a beloved dead pet and a 6 word description.
I submitted Snowflake, the pony who still makes me duck every time I see a low peach branch.
I’ve been crazy about horses since I was old enough to earn spending money. I did the usual kid jobs like selling chestnuts to a zoo, selling fat wood door to door and shoveling snow. When my net worth reached $25, I pooled my earnings with my brother Christian’s. Fifty dollars in hand, we bought a white pony from local horse dealer Sam Jones. Her name was Snowflake.
This was 1974 and we shoe-horned our tiny purchase in to the back of a blue International Harvester. No, not a pick up truck, but rather, the 70’s version of a Chevy Suburban.
Yep, we backed the truck against a dirt bank, placed her feet on the lowered tail gate, enticed her to drop her head with a bucket of grain and pushed like hell.
It worked. We got her in.
Sam, the horse dealer, had assured my brother and I that Snowflake was a model pony, a perfect first mount. When we unloaded her on the farm, we discovered Snowflake didn’t live up to her chaste and pure name.
As soon as we got on her back, she’d take a few steps, then run straight back to the barn. Or in to the most grown over section of the woods. Her aim was to scrape us off her back.
The worst was the peach tree in the back yard. It had one low branch, about pony wither high. This was Snowflake’s ace in the hole. If she couldn’t scape us off against a barn door, impale us on the branches of the wood lot, the peach branch would shear off her passenger.
This went on for months. It never occurred to my brother and I (or my parents) to just saw off that branch.
The spring after we bought Snowflake, she got fat. She mellowed. She didn’t run away as often, even avoiding the terrible gallop under the low peach branch.
Easter Sunday morning, I discovered it wasn’t my natural talent that had brought her around. There in the morning grass lay a grey foal. We named it Dominique, for Sunday. This came as a huge surprise as we didn’t own a stallion. Nor did any of our neighbors.
I guess that was another thing Sam the horse dealer hadn’t told us.
Turns out, it hadn’t been my natural talents that had domesticated Snowflake, it was motherhood that brought her around.
The truce was temporary. As soon as Dominique was weaned, Snowflake went back to her fiery ways. She resumed her kid-scrapping charges under the low hanging peach tree branch.
It’s been 40 years since those wild rides. We buried snowflake on our farm after many more years of adventures. My brother and I broke Dominique and he lived out his years in luxury in Southern Pines, North Caroline. He died at 30.
I’m grown now. I live on a farm. Out in my yard, there’s an old peach tree. I keep the branches trimmed real high.
Snowflake’s memory lives on at BeastField.com.