Knees in the Breeze

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First published in The Berkshire Edge. Copyright © Judith Shaw.

Early summer in the Berkshires, with hay ready to cut and the smell of meadowsweet in the air. It was the perfect day for a carriage drive.

I needed one.

I’d just had a fight with Ron about taking his Epi-Pen with him when he mowed paths through the hayfields. It was a losing battle. He was convinced that if he ran into yellow jackets on the tractor, he’d have plenty of time to get back to the house and jab himself in the thigh with the adrenaline syringe.

“No worries,” he said. “I know exactly where it is.”

It was a worry all right, but obviously not his. I was the one who drove him to the emergency room after his last yellow jacket encounter, and I didn’t want to do it again.

I grabbed Grayson out of the paddock, threw him into crossties and attacked him with a currycomb. Thankfully, he’s not a nervous horse. I switched to a stiff brush and then to a soft one. By the time his hoofs were picked out I had calmed down.

I needed to be calm. Harnessing and hitching are technical and require all my focus and attention.

We trotted up the long hill toward the top meadow, and suddenly all was right with my world.

The top meadow | Photo © Judith Shaw

The top meadow | Photo © Judith Shaw

Coming out of the woods into bright sunshine, I brought Grayson back to a walk. The meadows were too pretty to rush through. Wildflowers grew through the tall grass: Red clover, cowslips and purple vetch spread out in sheets. Swallows and bob-o-links swooped and fluttered above the hay.

The top field undulates, making it impossible to see very far ahead, but I saw something in the near distance that stopped my breath. At first I couldn’t work out what it was, but it resolved into a bent knee swaying feebly above the grass.

I screamed.

A loop played over and over in my mind’s eye: Ron, on his tractor, mowing paths through the hay and disturbing a nest of yellow jackets. Ron, covered with angry wasps, falling off the tractor and trying to crawl home for his damned EpiPen.

I put Grayson into his biggest trot and flew up the path, all the time screaming Ron’s name.

Two heads popped up, attached to two naked torsos. A couple of teenagers were making out in the hay.

I pulled Grayson to a stop. Totally taken aback, I mumbled something brilliant like “Excuse me. I didn’t know you were here.”

The boy sat up. “Is someone lost? Can we help?” The girl sat up too, all bare breasts and smeared mascara. She looked shell-shocked.

“It’s my husband. I’m afraid he’s had an accident with the tractor. He’s allergic. . . .” I realized how silly I sounded and shut my mouth.

“We haven’t seen any tractor around here,” the boy said, “but we can help you look.”

“Never mind,” I said gracelessly. “Sorry to have interrupted.” Then, realizing what I’d said, added, “Why am I apologizing? This is my meadow!”

It wasn’t my best ever exit line, but it would have to do.

I’d love to hear your feedback in the Comments section below. ~ Judith

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11 thoughts on “Knees in the Breeze

  1. Gwenda Shaw

    Hello again Judith,
    Your story made me laugh with its twist at the end. Congratulations on the completion of the first draft of your new book. Best wishes for the final outcome.

  2. Marg McKay

    You had me right in the palm of your hand. I too was cursing Ron for not taking the damn Epi-pen with him – so small a burden to carry given the potential risk. Tell him I’ll have words about this when we next see you 🙂 Anyway…back to the story…yes, eating out of your hand was I, or something like that. The twist in the tail is genius, and I love your imagery – your ‘oil painting’ of wildflowers in the tall grass – quite lovely! I say “oil painting” because that’s exactly what my mind conjured …rich, thick, glossy oils of green, purple, red. And, I love the title – it captured my attention from the outset. Love it, love you!

    1. Judith Shaw

      Thanks, Marg. It’s always great to hear from you. It’s a strange little story, but every word of it is true. That makes it even more fun to write.


  3. Jane

    Egads! Little did I know how sexy your novellas could be. More!!! I want more! How to keep your fans on the edge of their seats wondering what will happen next in your “Traveling Life”. Great, good fun, Judith.

  4. Steven

    So nice they were soo willing to help you on your own property!!! Shoot me a message, love to hear some updates!

    1. Judith Shaw

      Thanks, Steven. I’m glad you liked the story. No updates to report at the moment. I’ll keep you in the loop.

  5. Mary Garabedian

    Silly fools…Ron could have mowed over them with his tractor. Lucky Grayson was such a steady character. Apparitions in the hay would have spooked Rocket for sure. Thanks, Judith, your story brought me back to all the wonderful drives through your meadows. Mary

    1. Judith Shaw

      It’s amazing what people think is okay! I remember driving Bailey, who was not a steady horse, over the crest of a hill, almost trampling a woman doing Pilates in the path. It’s amazing Bailey didn’t go over backwards, coming upon a body with legs in the air, seemingly out of nowhere. When I suggested that she was exercising in a very unsafe place, she said she was nearly finished. Did I mind…

      I miss our drives, too. A lot.


        1. Judith Shaw

          Good morning, Gwenda, it’s lovely to hear from you. I didn’t receive any comment from you, although I would dearly love to. Please send it again.

          I hope you are well.. I think of you often.

          Love, Judith


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