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THE HORSE ON THE PORCH ~ 05.15.24

Updated: May 18

"No hour of life is wasted that is spent in the saddle." (Winston Churchill)

Many years ago, early one sunny Sunday morning my 4 year old daughter and I had nestled together in an oversized chair on the front porch of the house; me with my coffee and her with, well, . . . me.


Not long after that my 6 year old son showed up with a few books; not for him, but for me to read to his sister. She love stories, as do I.


Her and I sat there for quite awhile reading before she finally noticed what I should have hidden; her damaged rocking horse sitting on the other side of the front door. Having been purchased at a yard sale as previously owned, and clearly made by a do-it-yourselfer from leftover pieces of plywood and such, her horse wasn’t of the best of quality and condition to begin with. Plus I’d already repaired it a few times and our last home-move was not very kind to it.


So, as the saying goes, the writing was on the porch.


Broken or not, worn paint or not, none of that seemed to matter to her. And being only 4 years old, I doubt concerns about how safe it was or that it might not be worth repairing had even crossed her mind.


What did matter to her was that her horse was broken, and that now it was suspiciously parked beside some scrap wood and a few bags of garbage that were headed for the dump.


“Are you going to fix my horse now dad?” I remember her asking.


My decision to be forthcoming and tell her that her horse had seen its day did not go over well, and in retrospect I might have been more discrete with my plans to dispose of it, because until then I hadn't really considered how much time she’d actually spent with her horse. With that said her brother obviously did, because within minutes of hearing her plea to keep it, he and the Polaroid camera were there to save the day.


And that’s all it took.


I remember very well, watching as he picked up the horse to move it so he could get his best shot, as he reassembled it as best he could and composed and hit the shutter button. As he pulled the undeveloped image from the camera him and his sister waited in anticipation for the developing image to appear.


What I remember most is what he said when he gave it to her; “Here. Now you can keep your horse forever.”


And it wasn’t so much that he understood the value of the photo he’d taken, or even that he knew what to do to make her feel better, but how at age 6 he was able to show so clearly his empathy and caring, and that he instinctively and intuitively displayed what he was made of.


As both his sister and now as a woman who has suffered way more than her share of hardships in life, he continues to look out for her; supporting her in many ways including sending her money when he can.


Beyond being a good brother, he has turned out to be a good man.


The image above titled ”THE HORSE ON THE PORCH” was created from the original Polaroid shot by my son, and is a tribute to him.


More than any photo I’ve taken myself, it reinforces what Susan Sontag wrote, that “All photographs are memento mori. To take a photograph is to participate in another person's (or thing's) mortality, vulnerability, mutability. Precisely by slicing out this moment and freezing it, all photographs testify to time's relentless melt.”


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