November 26, 2009

Sweet Thirteen

I woke up at 3:11 a.m. this morning. As I listened to the rain play a wild percussion on the roof I thought about this exact moment thirteen years ago when I went into labour with my daughter Emma. Somehow my mind chose to wake me up in time to recall her entry into this world and I immediately decided to write about her, which I did, in my head until about 5:11 a.m. When I got up Emma was in the kitchen and I asked her if I could write about her on my blog. She said I might be granted this rare permission, seeing as it is her birthday.
Emma was born in Comox on the East coast of Vancouver Island. When she was one, her dad was offered a job as Program Director for an outdoor education center farther north on the Island. On December 30 we packed up kids and furniture and moved into a drafty log cabin at the lodge, which is situated on a beautiful, rocky lakeshore a 45 minute drive up a windy two lane highway from the nearest town.
Emma's formative years were spent at the lodge, making her first friends with the children of the handful of families that lived and worked there, hiking up to the lookouts, learning to swim to the dock in the cool clear water, climbing trees, playing on the rope swings, learning to ride a bike on the basketball court (the one paved area of the lodge), and visiting her dad in the office. It was the ideal life for a small child. We left the lodge when Emma was six and a half. We visit every second summer or so, and she cries every time we have to leave.
From about the time Emma was three or four she began to notice horses. Her parents, being what a friend calls 'horse muggles' thought it was just a phase. It wasn't. We have since learned that girls who start loving horses at a young age seem to keep on loving horses as they grow up. When my husband was offered a job at a resort here in the Fraser Valley, Emma patiently, but determinedly started asking about horseback riding lessons. After insisting we put it off until she was ten and physically stronger, we found out about an organically run stable not ten minutes drive from our house and tentatively began the process of inquiry with the owner. As it turned out, Emma was very welcome to come and take lessons there as well as work on Saturdays in exchange for a horse to ride after the work was done. She now spends a good portion of her time there taking lessons in 'natural horsemanship' and earns spending money by tacking up horses for her instructor's younger students and feeding the horses. Emma doesn't mind working in the rain and the cold, she thrives on it. She has become so strong and her allergies, which used to plague her, seem to have all but disappeared. It is all very natural for her, but I still marvel at this beautiful slim girl who bosses huge animals around, shovels manure, slings haybales, and collects horse books and figurines.
One of the benefits of having children and supporting them in their interests and passions is the education I have received by being led down paths of discovery and wonder that otherwise would have remained unknown to me.
So Happy Birthday Emma. If it weren't for you I would still be too scared of horses to let them take an apple core from my hand, and I wouldn't for the life of me know what a 'lunge line' was.


  1. Very nice tribute to your daughter. I had horses growing up and your daughter sounds just like me. There is certainly something therapeutic about the manual labour that comes from shoveling horse manure. I can't believe I miss it so much.

    One day, the time will come and I will own my own again.

    P.S. Happy Birthday Emma!

  2. Happy Birthday Emma! Thanks for giving us a glimpse into your life and Emma's. What a wonderful way for a child to grow up and what a blessing to be a mother!

  3. Emma sounds like a lovely young lady. I, too, am a horse muggle, so I just don't get it, but I think it is wonderful when young people pursue a passion.

  4. The love and respect you have for your daughter shines through every word of this post. Emma is lucky indeed to have a mother who values her for who she is, allowing her to develop into her own person. It's a gift that will be returned to you many times over!

    Your lives sound enchanted to me, up in the beautiful, mountainous Northwest, living in a lodge and then a resort.

  5. I forgot to say -- Happy Birthday to Emma! And to her mom, whose life became sweeter on this day.

    (you probably can tell I have a daughter, too!)

  6. Thank you all for your lovely comments and good wishes!

  7. Wow. I think I first rode a horse at the age of 6. Some people put 3 and 4 year olds on horses...not stallions...the old child friendly nags...

    When you think about it, she's more likely to be hurt in a car accident on the way to ride the horse. I'm glad she's found something to be passionate about and that you are allowing her to pursue it. Our lives are so much happier when we have that.


I'd love to hear your thoughts. Thanks!