When All of Life Is Magic

“We dance round in a ring and suppose. But the Secret sits in the middle and knows.”             – Robert Frost

The eaves were dripping as the winter mantle sank in resignation, just a little. The weak sun was shrouded in white and the birds were celebrating with a shouting chorus. The house sparrows rolled together on the patches of bare ground, wings flickering in the amorous thrill of pseudo-spring.

Kerry 7th Gen, the Junior horse, had escaped his enclosure, twanging and snapping the wire fence, scorning its absurdity. Trudy hung back, opting out of joining him, probably happy to be rid of him for a few hours. She could hang out instead with Clifford, who was still in the barn, and visit comfortably with him over the Dutch door, for once without interruption.

Kerry was snipping the long grasses with his teeth, those cold damp strands of brown flanking the woodpile. He heard me come out the door, turning his striped face toward me. Most horses would have put their tail up to snort and trot around in excitement. Even Clifford may have been like, “Look what I did! You can’t catch meeeeeee!”


Not this one. He walked around the truck and up the driveway, straight to me, standing with his face looking in my cell phone, posing for his close-up, blowing in my pockets softly. I did have a horse cookie. Indeed. I held it out, grateful for his calm demeanor. He crunched down the cookie and then followed me back to the barn. I led him inside and gave him a scoop of grain, closing the door behind me.

“I’ll be damned!” Dad had said, when I showed him the photos of the Morgan colt who looked so much like Clifford. He would certainly love this young, beautiful, curious and naughty gelding.

The chickadees were squabbling around Dad’s feeder and I paused to talk to them. The other birds scatter at the sound of my voice, except for the red headed woodpecker, who doesn’t fear me, and the chickadees who aren’t quite tame enough to eat from my hand. As I stood there looking at them I thought of the birds up on Drummond and how long it had taken me to hand tame that first one. It took patience. But once he started coming to my hand, the others did, too.


I had warned Dad to put only millet seeds in the feeder. They came to us for sunflower seeds. I always carried them in my pockets. But after two seasons Dad gave in and began filling the feeder with sunflower seeds, and that ended the hand feeding.

I came back in the house, carrying wood for the fire. I pulled my rubber barn boots off, stepping on the heel of one, and then the other. I left the boots sitting in the entry way, and then I heard a “BLING!”

It was like a xylophone, the sound ringing from the bottom to top of the scale. I turned to look at the wind chimes from Mom and Dad’s house that now hang in my entry way. They were perfectly still, hanging undisturbed. The sound did not match, anyway. The bells on Mom’s wind chime make a light sort of tinkle. This “Bling” was like a “ta da!”, or the sound of an angel’s wings as the Hallmark Channel would portray them.


“What the heck WAS that?” I said aloud.

I looked at my cats, both asleep in their respective spots, Kitteh atop the cat tree and Mox on the couch.

I was stumped.


My other wind chime hangs in the kitchen window, a gift from my glass artist friend Gina last Christmas. I touched it and got the familiar, deep tinkle.

I know I heard the sound, so clear and bright. It was sharp enough to make me suddenly turn and look.

The secret sits in the middle, and knows.


About Nancy J. Bailey

Artist, author, bad karaoke singer. Woodsy ragamuffin. Mom of a horse named Clifford who plays fetch and paints with watercolors. He visits libraries and schools with me, to promote literacy and making the world a better place. Yes, he is house trained, no, he doesn't live in my house! I have written three books about Clifford. But my newest book, THE NORTH SIDE OF DOWN, is co-written by my awesome sister Amanda, who has Down syndrome. Her unexpected one-liner wisecracks can always make me laugh. If you make me laugh, you've made my day!
This entry was posted in empathy. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s