The bear vs. beehive disaster of Friday almost made for a change of weekend plans. Jodi, my bee mentor, kindly offered to keep the two packages for a week putting me back on track for an out-of-town trip. I dropped out completely, left Alice in charge and ventured forth. At 8am Saturday I met Ava at the barn and we set off for Durham NH, home of University of New Hampshire and in particular, their equine facility. Abby was taking her Thoroughbred, Jump Boots, to his first Event of the season; we were keen to groom for her and watch the competition.
I wish I would stop complaining about this in light of the winter we just went through, but it was cold. The kind of April day of intermittent warm sun sliced through by bitter wind. Gloves were welcome and we all happily climbed into the car to move from venue to venue when possible. Abby was already there and Jenna was doing her best to warm her hands around a cup of coffee. Bella appeared and soon she and Ava had all the grooming chores under control. The first order of business was the dressage test.
For my non-equestrian friends – picture standing and watching a marathon stream by. Dressage is not even that exciting. Abby and Boots had a clearly defined routine to perform before a judge. This is the only subjective part of Eventing, but it is a critical 1/3 of your overall score. If you know what she is doing, it is Ballet!
That part over, we had lots of time to watch other competitors and wait for the reasons we all do Eventing – the jumping portions. First there is the stadium round, which involved nine obstacles in a pattern to be jumped cleanly and with no time faults. Tight turns and careful attention to the approach dominates this part of the competition. From there, we set out to walk the cross-country course Abby and Boots would follow.
The route began by a pond then wound through the woods with solid obstacles of varying heights and construction. The water complex was a fun spot to stop and watch as riders came crashing down the road behind us. The horses were full of the excitement of galloping and jumping, and the riders smiled and grimaced as they tackled the course.
Abby wasn’t riding stadium or cross-country until late afternoon, so I headed North and East. I hadn’t been to visit Lex and Shana since they moved to Portland ME and I was looking forward to a great dinner and conversation. I love Portland more and more with each visit. It is a real city, reminiscent of other east coast ports, but with a charm of its own. Enormous Victorian homes tucked up close to each other, jostle for a view of the harbor. The streets are narrow and short; I find it hard to navigate without a voice on the end of the phone or clear directions.
On the whole, it feels like a collection of wonderfully eclectic neighborhoods facing the sea. Their condo is lovely with hardwood floors and period details. A sunny bay window looked out on the tiny street and a deck off the back provided the most wonderful views of backlit sea gulls as they flew overhead at sunset.
Though I was exhausted and crispy-dry from the wind and exercise during the day, I managed to stay upright through a delicious roasted chicken dinner. We sat and sipped a ripe Port, reminiscing and laughing beyond my usual bedtime. The morning brought another chill day and a slight headache. I love Port, it loves me, we shouldn’t get together on a regular basis.
Lex was off early to work. Shana and I went out for pastry at an amazing little restaurant. Portland seems to have an eatery for every taste and this coffee shop was fun. It had obviously been a gas station/quick stop but the owner took that and created a kitschy, openly inviting spot. The Tandem Coffee Roasters was recently featured in Bon Appetite Magazine and the seeded scone with chives and cream cheese proved the accolades were well deserved. My camera batteries were dead (forgot my charger) so I leave you with this lovely shot from the bakery’s website.