A beautiful day. That’s what 12/10/11 was. My frustration in the search for Monsieur lead to a drive through Annapolis. I was two cars away from the white Audi S5 when he took a split in the road at the last-minute and I wound up at the Harbor toll road. Three dollars at one toll and four at another prior to passing Sandy Point Park. I figured it was best to go onward and track back to find the elusive Monsieur. My road trip placed me in the town of Berlin. A sign that said, “Assateague Island” pumped my curiosity, so onward I went. The visitors center provided the perfect welcome mat. It began with Kristie, an atom in human form. When I presented my National Park passport book for stamping, our kinship formed instantly. She spoke of a website for passport book stamp collectors like ourselves as well as the 25th anniversary of the program. Her knowledge of events and the ease of which she shared information was earnest and honest. Dick Pinsonneault, was pleasant, kind and informative. Between the two of them, I never knew hanging around the visitors center could be so much fun.
I mentioned to Kristie that at other park programs I had adopted a bat and named him Tuci, short for the town of Tumcumcari, NM. My sea turtle, from North Padre Island, TX, was named Amistad. With a huge smile she said, “You can adopt a horse!” I thought she was joking and said, “Adopt a what?” She explained that by being a foster parent to the horses on the island, it supports the management of them and their environment. Like a proud case worker, she showed photo after photo of mares, foals and one or two stallions that were in the program. I must admit prior to this I was not into horses. Afterall they were what cowboys used for transportation. Outside of Mr. Ed the talking horse and Trigger, they were just, horses. As I viewed each photo, taking into consideration their color, character and history, I began to change my opinion of them. They have bloodlines, who is related to whom, as well as the “bad girls” in the bunch. Finally, I chose Sea Gazer, which made me a foster parent to a mare. A beautiful diploma presentation book with her photo on one side and her paper work with name, tag number and other pertinent information listed on the other. You are also given the horse’s history as well as paperwork regarding the program itself.
I beamed as any new parent would but was told I could not take her home nor feed her. She had to remain wild to roam just as I do. Drats, I thought I would be able to use her in my search for Monsieur. Oh well. Afterward, I viewed a short film about the island and the history of the wild horses and other land animals. I learned of harems, bands, gene pools and non-invasive vaccines to prevent pregnancy. It discussed the folklore of how the ponies came to live on the island, stemming from settlers during the 17th century. I had received a history lesson, a mare and met some wonderful people all in one day. But the best was yet to come.
After saying my goodbyes, I headed across the bridge and took a right turn that lead into the park. Within minutes, to my left were three ponies hidden by the fading sunlight. I had attempted to photograph them but my shutter speed was too slow. I put the camera aside and decided to just enjoy what was in front of me. Once they disappeared into the thickness of the brush and trees, I moved onward, and came across several white tail deer. After my nature adventure, I stopped briefly at the beach. I stepped onto the sand and immediately I was at peace. A couple with a stroller were leaving and I had all this vastness to myself.
I was alone. The beach, the ocean, and I. No sharing with anyone. So I stood, and I listened. The water played footsie with me and I ran and returned to its edge. It shared broken pieces of seashells and I accepted its gift. Before leaving as the darkness engulfed me, I raised my hands, giving thanks for the moment, the minute and the day. I returned to my car and began to drive away. I stopped suddenly when I noticed a pale, yellow shape that tried to hide itself behind the vale of sheer clouds. I smiled once again because for a brief moment in time, I understood the beauty of the moment, a gift from the heavens above.