I am a New Englander to the bone, but I have a soft spot for the South. I believe my Virginian grandmother made it with her honey glazed ham and from there it only grew with every bite of biscuits and gravy. Love and food--that is what the South is made of. That and warm weather. When I finally moved here in 2004, it was mostly the heat that drew me. Despite years of being told otherwise, I knew that Massachusetts winters were not average. That first winter was the mildest of my life and it was amazing. "Wait 'til July!" I was told by locals. If their predictions were true, the above-average temperatures would continue through the summer and I would certainly be packing by August. When the pavement did not, in fact, melt under my feet and engulf me in flames, I decided to stay. That next May, out at a restaurant one night, I met my future husband. Love and food. Six years after that meeting and one year ago this month, we bought and moved into our dream farm in Maryland. As the days got closer to summer we started to notice fireflies gathering just above the natural spring on the far side of the property. At night, it was warm enough to eat dinner on the porch and watch the fireflies gather.
As the season went on their light disappeared, but I was happy to see the first hints of them last week. Several days of rain blocked their repopulation from my view, but last night as I was riding at dusk I noticed that they were coming out again. As I cantered around on the grass, I lost track of time and my surroundings. Before I knew it, dusk had turned to darkness and I realized that it was almost too dark to ride. In the last moments of my ride, the point where I usually search for that perfect moment to end, I noticed that the fireflies were not just in the distance any more. They were all around me. Cantering in the dark, surrounded by small specks of light, I felt like I was flying in the night sky. I am not one for Hallmark-card feelings about dressage, but this was surreal. As we rode our cool-down walk back to the barn, I passed the house and could smell dinner through the screen door ... I already forgot what was actually cooking, but in my heart it was my grandmother's ham.