The sun was setting in the Saskatchewan sky as my brother and I heard hoof beats coming from the north. In that golden orange haze, a dark horse loped by. She was pulling a two-wheeled cart and we could not recognize the driver. It was the most beautiful sight we had ever seen outside of the pictures of Greek steeds in the history books we sneaked out of the bookcase at school. (Our teacher at the one-rooms country school did not like us to look at books that would be used in later grades.)
“Wouldn’t it be nice if Dad would buy that horse and cart for us to drive to school?” I said, and my brother looked at me with a worldly grin and answered, “He’ll never do that, it’s only three miles to school, besides we don’t know anything about this horse or who owns it.”
At almost 10, he had a better grip on such situations than I did , two and a half years younger. I was disappointed but nothing was going to keep me from remembering that black horse so unique in the golden sunset.
Well, it turned out she was not black, it was only her silhouette against that golden sunset that made her seem so and our dad did buy us the horse and cart. She was really a red chestnut color standard-bred. She had been hurt when the owners tried to race her.
“Midnight” became her name because of our first encounter with her and we never forgot the joy of that summer evening. Now, as adults in our 70s , we still talk about her.
We had learned to drive her in the cart but we also rode her around the farm, out to the pasture to get the cows , over to the neighbors to do errands and we loved her dearly and she seemed to love us in return.
When Dad died, I was already in Alberta and the rest of the family followed me. The few animals that were left were sold – but not Midnight – not our golden steed. My uncle took her to his farm and fed her his good farm hay, led her to water and brushed her coat.
Even now, so many years later, when I see the sunset, I think of the silhouette of that “black horse” and I think of the happiness she gave us.