A Girl Can Lean and Dream…

I started my day reading the wisdom of Philosopher Mouse of the Hedge. He hit on some interesting points about society, parenting and the state of women.

And then Ella showed up. It was two years ago, when she was three and a half years old, that she first visited the Mountain Lane Farm. She is just one of those singularly, self-composed adults masquerading as children. Against the back-drop of helicopter parenting and advice on how to growing strong women, I remembered of what it means to be a kid  exploring the world.

Yes, she got very dusty and dirty, and her fingernails were black from scratching Night’s neck and softly saying, “Good girl.” As I stepped up to lead them, she leaned down and pointed to Night’s ears. “I know when she is listening to me because that ear points backward.” There is nothing else like the giggles that rush, uncontrollably when you first trot on a horse.

Ella climbed over fence with me and wandered around the pony and donkey pen. The curious, furry beings gathered around her. Yes, one of them could have bitten, kicked or knocked her down. But they didn’t and they wouldn’t. They felt no fear because she had none. “MOM!! Don’t step on the round stuff!  It’s POOP!!”

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But more pointedly was her parent’s reaction to all this dirt and discovery. They are not large animal aficionados; didn’t have the same lack of fear that Ella and I had around things that could hurt you. Though they foolishly trusted me with their daughter’s well-being, they also exuded a calm about Ella and how the world deals with her. I applaud their courage.


We next went to my house to drop a car before going to town for lunch. Ella ran in and asked if she could go up to the “attic” and knew exactly where the toys were from two years ago. Then the terror set in, she was afraid to go down the metal, spiral staircase. Her mom handed her half way down to me and I looked into her face and said, “You just rode a 1200 pound horse Miss Ella. You are the bravest girl I know.”

Ella’s mom mentioned a post I had shared on Facebook about Lindsay Eaves Hunter and the women who retrieved the fossils believed to be a new species of ancestral human. The particular repost I shared was a quote from the story in the Atlantic Monthly by a site called A Mighty Girl. Ella’s mom had followed the links, read the story and went on to find a wealth of books and projects she wanted to share with Ella.

Meanwhile, Ella was carefully acquainting herself with the house and Alice. She skipped back into the livingroom and announced “There’s a room right over there with another couch! Do you know I found two bathrooms?!!?!” She started to bounce on the couch when her dad said “probably most folks didn’t bounce on their couches” and she promptly stopped, wandering off again. In extreme fits of happiness, I’ve been known to bounce on my couch and I am 12 times older than Ella…

There is hope; at the very least, a girl can lean and dream…





18 thoughts on “A Girl Can Lean and Dream…

  1. can’t love this article enough. it’s evocative and took me right back to some experiences i had as a girl…not the least of which is the heavenly scent of horses. the shot of Ella leaning on a pony is most wonderful. thanks for posting. 🙂

  2. As I have mentioned, not a horsey person – got on one side of a donkey and promptly fell off the other – but can empathise with the giggles at doing something so new and it working. Colleague at work taught me in 15 minutes to hold the cello and bow, get four or so decent sounding notes and then played the main theme of the Swan to my four continuing repeated notes. I remember saying to her, “You can’t see me but I am grinning fit to bust with pleasure.” Lovely photo leaning and dreaming. (Oh by the way Carambola on my blog!)

  3. Beautiful post Martha. It makes me want to go out and do something impulsive and irrational – like bounce on a couch (which wasn’t allowed at my house when I was a kid.) And BTW, you came up in conversation over dessert last night. We’re in Skopje, Macedonia and were having what may be the best baklava I’ve ever eaten. Everything about it was wonderful, but the honey was particularly tasty and added so much flavor to the pastry. FYI, this part of the world has tons of beehives. We’ve seen thousands on our bus trips. ~James

    • Wow! I am honored to have crept into a conversation in Macedonia. Oddly, James, one post I wrote early on was when I noticed my first “follower” to my blog from Macedonia. To be honest I had to look it up on a map then hours later realized I was “visiting” the countryside on Google Earth. The Internet is a wonderful thing but being there must be life-changing.

  4. Ella sounds like she has an “old soul”, being able to explore new things as if she has already done it before. Nothing more fun and rewarding than re-living your own childhood by watching other children grow up. A really nice post Martha!

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