Wednesday, June 12, 2013

This Is My Taco

It's 6:57 am.  In 18 minutes I will go down to my basement and wake up a herd of pony club campers.  Holston Pony Club has had a summer camp nearly every year I've had a child involved.  We used to rent Virginia Intermont's barn and open camp to the public, which meant we raised money doing it (though we also charged our members, and it wasn't cheap).  We would have something like 25 campers, which, when combined with 25 ponies, was a lot.  Multiple instructors, complicated schedules, and usually at least one group of small clueless pony-loving children who needed constant, constant, supervision.

I remember one year agreeing to a single-night sleepover in VI's barn lounge.  My friend and riding instructor Lisa stayed the night too.  In the morning both Lisa and I were nearly hungover from exhaustion, but whereas she was deeply annoyed about how the night had gone (one child cried, the concrete floor was astonishingly uncomfortable, a skunk sprayed the door at 2 am and all the lights in the adjoining indoor arena went on automatically at 4 am and could not be turned off) I was ebullient (no one had vomited, bled, or gone home). 

A few years ago, when I took over the DC position (District Commissioner, a fancy-sounding term that means Troop Leader), our club had gotten pretty small.  A lot of the older kids had aged out.  We're also a very widespread club, geographically speaking, so our members don't get a lot of time to hang out together.  And I have a big barn on my property that sits unused for most of the year.  So I changed camp--just us, just at my barn, and free to members.  At the end of that camp I asked what we should do to make next year better.  "Let us sleep over," one of the members said.

Well, I have a basement.  So we did.  And now we have new members and camp's grown bigger again and I was a little worried, frankly, over how this camp would go.  But it turns out I needn't have been.  The big kids are so good at taking care of the littles, and at leading by example.  When one of the big girls swept the barn aisle yesterday, a new member hurried to get the wheelbarrow and pick up the sweepings.  Our new members are learning the pony club way of taking care of their horses, which is not the only possible way, but is the only possible way that will not get you points deducted at rally.

At lunch we sit in a big circle.  We'll start a question--What kind of riding do you want to be doing in ten years?--and everyone has to answer in turn.  The kids love this.  I don't know why.  It's very simple, and they'd be upset if I forgot.  They'd remind me, write the question themselves, pass it around, expect me to answer in turn.

A few days ago I read a blog essay in which the writer said that she used to be amazed at her police officer husband's powers of multitasking.  He'd be on patrol, actively doing something, while also talking to her on the phone and eating a taco.  And he'd say, "This taco is amazing."  She wondered how he could possibly even taste the taco.  Then one day she got it.  When you're in the midst of doing something you're meant to do, you can do it all, even down to enjoying the taco.

Of course, yesterday, while I sat at the kitchen table getting to know some of the new members over plates of fried chicken, the UPS guy brought me my manuscript back from my editor.  I can see I'm in for another big revision.  I'm ready for it.  Right now it's just nothing but tacos around here.