“Evie, get off the horse now!” Evie had climbed up on Cowgirl and was happily chatting away with Sammy, who was holding the lead rope. She gave me a blank stare. “Evie, get off!” She frowned and stuck her jaw out at me, but did dismount.
Evie, who is eight, had forgotten to put on her helmet, and not for the first time. Not only is she not very attentive to safety, when she’s asked to clean up manure or pick hooves or put away tack, she gives me an equally quizzical stare. It’s not that she is being defiant, it’s just that those kinds of activities make no sense to her.
What does make sense to Evie is decorating the barn. She’s not one of those kids who likes to talk about decorating then expects me to do all the work. Evie comes prepared and with a plan. She rips her own tape, cuts her own string and ties her own knots. She also makes her own ornaments. Part of the red and green paper chain garland that she made by herself expressly for the barn is visible looping past the “tree”.
Evie has been making plans for decorating for Christmas since Halloween. As we return to the barn after riding, she would always be babbling on about lights and garlands and balls. I paid little attention to her ramblings until our last ride, when it occurred to me that I ought to make some attempt to purchase decorating material that was in line with her visioning.
I did my best this morning at the discount section at Walgreens and purchased balls, garlands, jingle bells and a wreath. Evie arrived at the barn about five minutes after me. She popped out of her mom’s Chevy Suburban, pointed to the fence and said, “this is where we need to put the tree!” I pulled out the tape, scissors and string, showed Evie the supplies I had purchased, then went back to mucking the paddock.
Evie was undaunted. She made her own tree, out of a sycamore stick, and decorated it appropriately. Evie and Sammy (who also loves to decorate) did their best to secure the “tree” in the ground by shoving it down a couple of inches then poking rocks and sticks around the base. After Evie left, the weather started to turn. With gusts of wind and bursts of rain, we decided the tree could not stand alone and Sammy used a piece of bailing twine to tie it to the barn.
Although I really do wish she’d pitch in around the barn, I don’t think that’s going to happen anytime soon. Evie is remarkably single track in her focus, with the bigger house to decorate the better. This makes riding along the Los Altos Hills pathways pure joy for her. She splits her time in the saddle doing “trick riding” (and by this she means standing on her knees in the saddle and sticking her arms out to the side like wings) and deliriously developing decorating schemes for every dwelling we pass (most of which can’t quite be described as mansions, but all of which are bigger than what any average person would call a house). She also designs houses. “There will be six bedrooms on the second floor and a big play room down stairs and a theater in the basement and a toy storage room and a very large kitchen and . . . ” She goes on and on. (Her designs often call for large portions of the house to be constructed out of candy.)
I’ve mentioned several times that I wasn’t all that interested in big houses seeing they don’t leave any room left for horses. Evie has an unusual, fairly deep timbre to her voice and she has what, I suppose, her teachers would refer to as a speech impediment. She speaks quite distinctly, but often replaces r’s with w’s and e’s with a’s, the effect being, because she speaks so enthusiastically and with passion, most charming. One afternoon, when she was about to launch into yet another grand plan, she looked at me and said, “I know what you want, Debowah. You want a big house, but the top pawt of the house will be youwr bedwoom and all the west of the house – ” and with the word “all” she extended her arm and described a large circle in the air with her hand, ” – all the west of the house will be wooms for hohses!”
Even at the tender age of eight, Evie’s design and aesthetic skills are intimidating. Should the opportunity ever arise, I would be more than happy to have her design me a house, especially since I am completely confident she knows exactly what I have in mind.