The mid-day prickle of a newly-mown hay field reminds me, and I am transported.
I am seeing skep-bucket mounting blocks, wispy hairnets, butterscotch Jello pudding cups and sweat-soaked saddle pads. Surrounding me are distant whinnies, the punctuating urgency of “Head’s up!”, the echo of speeding hoofbeats and breath in rythmn, and the hollow thunk of wooden poles hitting hard, clay dirt.
How can something as simple as a sunny, summer day in the middle of a hay field parking lot bring this exact memory alive, playing in front of me like some strange inner-cortex heads-up display? What triggered this sensory journey backwards? What caused this inexplicable sound and vision byte of something so specific, of shiny riding boots and the swish of a haynet against the side of a trailer?
I am caught when present thoughts are carefree, my leisurely foot crushing the bristled stems of timothy and brome grass.
I can immediately picture the sand in the early morning, just harrowed, the humidity of the water evaporating in wisps of steam as the first hoof steps down onto the perfectly manicured surface. My lungs, breathing in, expect to brace with the scent of liniment, foaming in buckets, sloshing while lean-legged, ponytailed girls stagger-step from one place to the next, the sponge in their other hand waving madly as they rush after their sweaty, blowing charges.
It seems so real, yet then the sensation is gone in a mere moment, blinking. I am back in the now. But instead of being surrounded by horses, trucks, lawn chairs and tack trunks, there are cars, baby strollers, umbrellas, and cloth shopping totes.
It seems I am listening to my past this day, whispered up by a catalyst so simple, the crackling of a newly-mown hay field underfoot.