Four-week-old Ralph and his mom were out in the small paddock enjoying one of Vermont’s finest summer evenings. I haven’t seen him in a week or so, and the shy, wobbly little colt I’d last seen was full of new tricks.
I left the car running so I could move if any one came up the hill behind me, opened the door and, using the car as tripod and camouflage, pointed the lens at Ralph and his mom. Before I even started to zoom, Ralph looked in my direction and started to trot to the fence. Then he got a little shy and went back to his mom to nurse for a minute.
Mom was eating and swished her tail at him to give her a minute and he looked back at me. He trotted right up to the fence and then back to his mom, nuzzling her for a bit of attention. Mom looked at me and then at nuzzled Ralph and sauntered closer to my section of the fence, Ralphie trotting close behind.
With Mom close by, the last vestige of hesitation, and Ralph cantered around the paddock and came back to the fence right next to the car. He craned his neck trying to see over the top rail and then, with a quick glance at me as if to say, “Watch what I can do!” made another lap around the ring. After his third lap, he stopped at the fence and tried to poke his head below the top rail then behind it, playing an equine version of peek-a-boo with me and my camera. It was clear that Ralph had been the subject of photographic adoration from the other residents on our road.
The last week had brought a heat wave and a day off, chores and bills. It was like every other week except that while we weren’t paying attention, someone was growing up. Something about watching someone else’s kid shoot up like a weed makes you wonder what wonders in your own life you might be missing when you think you’re having a week just like all the others.