Sometimes when we haven’t done something we really enjoy for a while, we miss that activity, like an old friend. Old friends can be a book, a movie, holding a baby, making a craft, or watching a basketball game… at least with me they can be. These old friends can give us happy moments similar to the happy moments we experience with people. They are even a bit easier to deal with than people, because there’s no worries about awkward moments, tensions, or stresses… they are easy.
In my book Return to New Parish Hannah finds one of her old friends – horses. She’s always loved horses, and learned to ride at the age of nine. This old friend always gave her comfort, peace, and of course, joy. She finds it much easier to admire horses, or ride them, than to deal with an ornery old cowboy…
Excerpt from Return to New Parish:
“In a few minutes they were driving under a rustic archway made of roughly hewn cedar and wrought iron that said, “Lucky A Ranch” with two horses on either side of the words. Pulling into the paradisiacal looking ranch, Hannah was blown away. It had a huge mansion type house with rock face like the one Max had built, only much bigger. There were three above ground levels, balconies were on the second and third levels with a large wraparound porch on the ground level which had desert landscaped gardens surrounding it. A huge classic red with white trim barn sat directly across from the house, about a hundred feet away, with three long stables on the right side of the house also about a hundred feet away in the other direction. There were two fenced in paddocks or corrals next to the stables, with beautiful palominos frolicking about in them. All the fences around the ranch, including the one around the large pasture to the left of the driveway, where the green grass was knee high, were painted white giving the whole place a fresh crisp look.
Hannah had to do a double take, to realize this amazing place was really real. It was like the opulent ranches shown in the old westerns she and Sarah used to watch when they were kids.
“So does Louis L’Amour live here?” she asked trying not to giggle out of sheer delight.
Sarah laughed, “Nope, but a real cowboy hero does. Wait till you meet Uncle Alex, he’s great! He used to ride in rodeos, herd cattle on long trail drives, and do all that cowboy stuff. You’ll love him!”
“I love those palominos!” Hannah said excitedly, “They’re gorgeous!”
Sarah pulled the car up near the house and got out, “You can go ahead out there and see them if you want. I’m going to pop inside to see the ladies of the house then I’ll join you.”
“Cool,” Hannah replied and headed toward the palominos. Reaching the corral fence she climbed up on the bottom of the three wooden rails and held onto the top one while reaching out to touch the nose of an approaching blonde horse. The horse nuzzled her hand as though they were old friends. Hannah smiled and let the honest friendship flow between them.
“Well, aren’t you a pretty little sorrel filly?” a deep melodious voice said from behind her.
Turning quickly to see who was talking Hannah saw a tall, slender, older cowboy, dressed in full cowboy regalia. From the top of his dusty cowboy hat to his dust covered cowboy boots, Hannah couldn’t believe it, she might have been very happy to meet this guy, if he hadn’t just called her a red headed horse.
Looking that old cowboy up and down she could see the weathered tanned skin on his face, the graying mustache, the cowboy hat that covered his graying unkempt hair, the worn pale blue cotton button up shirt, the worn leather chaps that wrapped snuggly around his blue jeans, and his very worn cowboy boots. He was carrying a lasso in one gloved hand and a tool to remove rocks from a horse’s shoe in the other hand – Hannah recognized the tool from her stable days as a kid.
He was smiling at her in a friendly sort of way, which annoyed her, she knew why but didn’t want to admit it to herself. She did admit to herself that a guy smiling friendly at her was still not something she was ready for.
“I’m not a horse,” stepping down from the rail, the anger in her voice was evident as she spoke to the man who looked like he was the beach-bum of ranch hands. He made Hannah think of the old guys on the beach who forgot they grew up so they were still out there acting like kids, “What does he think he’s playing at?” she thought. He had no right to call her a filly or approach her like that. The anger was gaining ground as he stood there looking confused at her comment.
When he finally spoke again, Hannah thought he sounded like he was excused from the “normal” etiquette that everyone else had to adhere to.
Smiling broadly underneath his mustache he drawled, “Yes ma’am.”
“Who does this guy think he is?” Hannah thought angrily. Looking toward the house where Sarah had gone, she didn’t see her. “Come on Sis,” she continued to think, “rescue me or him, this isn’t going to be pretty.” All the while she continued to give the old cowboy an annoyed look that would have made most guys leave whimpering. He didn’t leave, he kept smiling like he was enjoying himself, this made Hannah even angrier.
“Do you like the horses?” he asked still smiling.
Instead of saying they’re absolutely gorgeous and I love them, which was the truth, Hannah looked at the dusty old cowboy and said, “I’m waiting on my sister and I don’t need company to do that.” She hoped that would be blunt enough to let him know to leave her alone.
“Aw, you’re much to pretty to have that much venom,” the old cowboy smiled at her with one eye closed as though he were sizing her up.
“Listen here you ornery old codger! I don’t put up with any crap from men like you nor do I need your passive aggressive comments!” Hannah unloaded on him with full force, and would have kept going if Sarah hadn’t intervened.
“Hey,” Sarah said with an awkward, let’s calm down, tone in her voice, “What’s going on, Hannah? I see you’ve met Uncle Alex,” she gave Hannah a look that told her to cool it. Then turned to Uncle Alex and said, “Hi, this is my sister Hannah, Uncle Alex.”
Uncle Alex smiled broadly and said, “It’s very nice to meet you Hannah,” removing his glove and holding out his hand to shake hands with her.
He still looked like he was enjoying himself, which kindled Hannah’s anger even more, she took a deep breath and said, “Yeah,” as she took his hand, but only because of years of her mother droning it into her to have manners. She pulled her hand away quickly so as not to prolong the experience or give him any ideas about forgiveness or friendship. The soft gentle touch of his hand lingered in her mind but his next comment synched her dislike for him.
“I can see that your hair and temperament are in perfect alignment,” he smiled pleasantly at her.
Sarah gave Hannah a look that she recognized immediately, it said, behave, but she wasn’t sure that was going to happen. “This guy is asking for it!” she thought as she leered at him. Looks passed back and forth between Hannah and Sarah with no words being said, Hannah’s final look told Sarah she wasn’t going to put up with Uncle Alex’s comments.
Sarah quickly said, “I came over to see your ladies about the party prep we’re going to be helping with and get an idea of what we’re going to be doing tomorrow. So I guess we’ll go now, I need to get back home and you know, hurl,” she smiled awkwardly at Uncle Alex and pulled Hannah along with her toward the car.”
New Parish is out now! Return to New Parish will be out in a few months!!! You can get a copy of New Parish here:
New Parish by Julie Worthington on Amazon.com
Also available at:
Bee’s Grocery (in Centennial Park)
Changing Hands Bookstores in Phoenix and Tempe AZ
Coming soon to many new bookstores!