My daughter is teaching herself how to draw horses. She studies the musculature displayed on the library book pages and carefully draws the head, the hindquarters, parts of the horse’s body I can’t name because I was never a horsey girl. Possibly this is due to the fact that I exploded into an allergic fit upon being within 50 feet of any equine. Also perhaps because I was too busy thinking about writing stories about girls who ride horses than actually doing the horse-loving myself.
Julia is 7 years old and built like a colt – long legs that seem to grow longer each morning, arms built for monkey bars or holding reins. She loves riding horses, reading about them, mucking out stables, brushing, and learning details of breeds. I admire her fascination and determination, how present she is in each of her choices. Never mind that we live in the suburbs without a stable.
There’s a quiet grace to her and to the way she interacts with animals, a quirkiness to her drawing methods that makes sense to her. She’s always been a bit of this and that – a mix of hand-me-down ruffled skirts and baseball, brightly colored ribbons and bug collecting. Math-lover and fake-language-maker-upper. “I just like certain combinations,” she explains as she appears at the breakfast table in jodhpurs and a blouse for school. One of those combinations Julia adores is feta in dates and she nibbles pomegranate seeds as she draws. Like most phases, I am sure the horse one will fade. I try not to think about what comes next and just relish the colt in her.
These simple starters are for her, and for you to serve at your holiday gatherings, the bright red so festive, the dates bursting with sweetness, the Feta so tangy. A bit of this and of that.