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Happy New Year

Happy New Year

By Eclipse Award-Winning Writer Sean Clancy

I tiptoe past a snoring Frenchman on the couch, turn on the coffee, feed the
fish. Four hours of sleep not enough, glad I drank the water and ate half a
loaf of cinnamon bread before pulling the curtain on 2011.

The sun’s coming up over the trees on the far end of the farm as I step into
my sneakers, left out on the porch for the night. Seeing the sun touches a
long-buried nerve, I always feel like I’m late, waiting to hear my father
stomping and screaming because the horses need to eat. I only hear the
shuffling of my feet across gravel, heading to the barn. Seven Canadian
geese emerge from the pond on the northwestern corner of the farm, floating,
rhythmically, wings and sounds choreographed like a Broadway opening. I
wonder where they’re going.

Teddy, Marscaponi and Treasure Map watch me from the back field. Under
Shirt, Kiss and Blue watch me from the front field. Dirty and uncaring,
waiting for six buckets of grain. Singleminded. Blue stands at the gate,
waiting for breakfast and a way to clear the ghosts in his head, always
weaving, always edgy. He’s never had a friend.

I open the loft door for Duchess and O’Malley. They poke their heads from
behind straw bales. They jaunt out, glad to see somebody, anybody. Two
rescued cats living large.

Eli, the African Pygmy goat, hears me first, baaaa, baaaa, baaaa, like tires
over a rumble strip. White Man shakes his head, bouncing his chin off his
door. Border, still the same old Border, shows no sign of thought; eat,
sleep, eat, sleep, eat, sleep. The unemployed uncle who needed a couch one
night and has never left, every time he goes to his car, he brings another
suitcase, another little league trophy for the mantel. He’s never been to a
grocery store, a laundry room, a workplace. Still a sweet soul, I pet him on
the nose as I drop a bucket of pellets into his feedtub.

Happy birthday, boys.

I tune the dusty radio to NPR, guessing at the numbers because the dial’s
been broken for years. Find it, then listen to all the writers, explorers,
artists chasing dreams and making differences while I push a wheelbarrow and
wade into two dirty stalls. Heavy lifting. Hallow on the mind.

The stalls offer instant gratification, that’s about all.

Beautiful day. Could reach the 60s, perfect day, if you can just keep from
thinking about the long, cold winter ahead. I wish I could paint – white
silos in the distance, the leafless marionettes which were trees a month
ago, the horses ambling across the horizon, the deer tiptoeing along the
edge of the woods, the powdery jet streams streaking the sky, the flutter of
birds dancing over the barn and out of sight.

I find a dusty, uncomfortable, metal chair on the back porch of the barn and
take a deep breath, stealing a moment of peace before the houseguests
finally let go of the final frames of 2011.

Later today, I’ll think of all my resolutions, all my promises, all my goals
for the upcoming year. But for now, I drift.

Sean Clancy is an Eclipse Award-Winning Writer. Champion jockey in 1998, Clancy co-publishes Steeplechase Times and The Saratoga Special with his brother Joe. Clancy won the Eclipse Award for writing in 2009, and was part of HRRN’s Eclipse Award-Winning Breeders’ Cup broadcast team in 2010. Sean’s keen eye make his pre and post race insight invaluable to listeners and his unique ability to relate to horsemen helps provide outstanding interviews for HRRN fans. He currently lives in Middleburg, Va. with his wife, son, eight horses, two cats and a goat.

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