It’s Hannah texting me. One of the great things about a town with less than three thousand people in it and only one school is that you make friends pretty quickly. Especially when you’re the weirdest person that’s passed through Springdale in years. I wonder what they think about my Aunt. She’s pretty way out there.
Hannah’s keen to go riding, I’m a little skeptical about the weather but I suppose her being a Newfoundlander she would have a better nose for it. Riding in snow is going to be a new experience that’s for sure.Vara’s still not happy that I’ve taken up horse riding again, though I don’t know why – I was pretty good at it when I used to ride in South America. The house sounds quiet. My aunt must have had a late shift at the hospital. We live like strangers anyway – like that movie I once saw about these tenants that all occupy the same flat only they work different shifts so never see one another. The only time we’re ever in each others company for several consecutive hours is when we’re on a plane to our new destination.
I’m trying to find my riding kit but the musk-smelling cupboard is determined to throw every single item of clothing out with it, sneakily spitting it out once I’ve shoved it back in and turned my back to pick something else up. Ted thinks he’s helping by stashing the escaping socks by the bedroom door. I still haven’t gotten used to how many layers I have to put on before I can even leave my bedroom – let alone the front door. At least the woolen hats that I have to wear can hide my unruly reddish hair that tends to kink and curl in the most unflattering fashion.
My aunt still isn’t home. I can see from the state of the kitchen. She must have made herself something to eat before heading out for her shift last night while I was sleeping. Dishes are still piled in the sink and I will probably have to wash them before I head out to school after the out ride. Vara isn’t the neatest person in the world. I let Ted out the front door, he pauses dramatically on the porch, one paw raised, his nose sniffing tentatively as though testing my theory on ice-crackling air, and then he bolts down the steps to hop comically between snow piles looking for the right “spot”.
I enjoy the walk from my house to the stables. It’s not too far, about 2 kilometres. In a town this small though I guess everything is relative. Last nights’ snow is slushy underfoot as it already starts to melt. It’s still a bit dark outside, I can see the dawn gathering along the horizon and every now and then as I pass the rows of clapboard houses I get a glimpse of the sea – grey and brooding below.
It feels awkward to type in my gloves and I have to look out for this new thing that I discovered since I’ve been here – black ice. I don’t know how many times I fell in the first few weeks, mostly outside school which is pretty much the most embarrassing thing that can happen in a small town because that means falling in front of everyone. I’m now contemplating the field up ahead that I normally have to cross to get to the stables. It’s laid thick with snow and I can only just make out where Hannah’s walked before me, maybe walking in her footsteps will mean that my jodhpurs and boots won’t get as wet. I’m being optimistically hopeful.
I can see Hannah at the stable, stamping her feet and blowing into her hands. It’s a good sight seeing a Newfoundland Native actually feeling the cold. Makes me feel that I’m not alone. When you live out here you gain a proper understanding of the saying “chilled to the bone”. Hannah has these incredibly striking features. With the palest blue eyes I’ve ever seen and the whitest blonde hair I’m quite certain that her ancestors must have been Nordic. I can imagine fierce vikings crossing the Bering Strait or sailing into Hall’s Bay on creaking wooden ships, their faces sea-weathered and beards wind-knotted.
The horses are already saddled thanks to Hannah and I can’t wait to say hello to my leased horse Dune, a Freisian breed with the most beautiful coal black coat. He has such a gentle temperament despite his powerful size. There is nothing better than the feeling of contentment I get when I rest my head on his strong neck and breathe in his horse scent. I can see that Dune is eager to get out of the stables. The horses have been cooped up for a couple of days while the weather has been inconsiderate. I’m also excited at the prospect of going for a riding through snowy forests and fields.