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...

It was quite the trek to get to him. Past a surly gate keeper and along a winding road that went on for six miles until we hit our destination. Past late-summer dried fields, train trestles that looked forgotten, but are still in use vitally connecting north and south coastal communities. Past the small social looking groups of black cows (herdlets?) that gazed and chewed at us when our car nudged our way through them, yellow numbered tags pierced in their ears.

...

We came upon one view and then another of Pacific vastness. The kind of balming view that places like Big Sur afford. A California native, I had never seen these particular views and I was jaw-dropped-awed. Who lived in this place? Who honored themselves with such a daily view of blue and untouched nature? Who indeed.

...

Our car shuddered across cattle guards one, two, three, and four. Crickets chirped thirstily in the dried grasses. Dust rose on the road behind us, blocking our view of the past, visual clarity only in where we were going.

And there he was.

...

We must stop, I said.

And stop we did.

He looked at us with his chocolate brown eyes melting in the sun. Long lashes coated in a day’s dust. A bit of hay in his hair. Dark, strong and spirited (like my coffee and my men). How could I resist?

...

I ran across the parched land, toward his beckoning call. He tossed his black hair with a nervous arrogance as I approached, kicking up some dust to claim that this was his land I was on. This was his home and domain. I was just a woman tolerated until he could no longer accept me taking in his view, soaking in his world.

Someone did not like the clicking of the camera.

I held out my hand as if for him to kiss my ring, but instead of a kiss a long, warm exhale of the scent of stables, sweat and the hills of golden grass surrounding him reached me. His lips were as warm and soft as National Velvet. He was dusty as if he had just had a rowdy roll in the hay, the spirited devil.

What’s your name? I asked.

Loud exhales and some dust raising foot work were my answer, the saucy beast.

I have to go, but maybe I’ll see you again soon. We’re visiting just down the road and we will be back in a couple of weeks, my voice automatically shifting into the higher octave and sing-song quality necessary when speaking to animals and small children.

A swipe of his tail across one side and then the other was my answer.

...

So. I’ll see ya. I love your view, I said.

He turned abruptly away from my sugarless hands and looked out at the vast big blue. I didn’t blame him; a whole boatload of apples could be sailing in at any minute and when it did he would be the first to see it.

It broke my heart when he watched us leave, watched our dust cloud recede. He has a good life by all outside appearances; every need met, prime real estate, his whole horse- act together. But I could tell he wanted my company. Or maybe just any company would do. Even though he was reluctant to admit it, he really did want to share his view.

But I’ll be back for his name, for his story, and with handfuls of apples to continue this story.

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