we circumnavigate strawberry hill in a game of our own devising

Sunday I was an hour and a half early to my lesson, to Jeremy’s infinite amusement. I hung out in the cafe in Ladera watching Men With European Cars. It was one of those meetings where they stand around looking at engines and discussing detailing. O the infinity of my scorn, but standing around discussing flexion and distances is the same exact thing. I am lucky, they are lucky, to be so fond of something so complicated.

I rode Austin, as I have not done in ages. I first rode him when I was still in my twenties and he was barely more than a colt. He’s my friend Beth’s horse and he’s one of the best horses in the world. I’d put my kids on him without hesitation, and yet I can ask him for flying changes and lateral work and he’ll give them willingly. That’s rarer and more precious than anything you can imagine.

I told Nicole I wanted to work on having a more consistent leg and a more following hand, which turned out to be a mistake, because she cranked up my stirrups to jockey length to stretch the tendons and everything still hurts. It worked, of course, and I went on to ride Austin really well, which is lucky because Beth came to watch. The last course we rode was good, and the last line especially good; I relaxed and sank into the saddle and Austin liked that.

I was sugar crashing when I got home and had to collect the Fitzhardinges. I desperately wanted the linguini and clams from Park Chow, as you do, but I knew I couldn’t make it that far. I was finding a place to park near Church and Market when Jeremy reminded me that there is another Chow right there. When my linguini appeared in front of me I was teary with the pleasure of a wish come true.

We met Gilbert and Heather and Heath and Ada in GG Park and rented paddleboats and had pirate and accordion battles all around Strawberry Hill. Then we climbed the hill, passing a drag queen photo shoot at the waterfall. In the ruins on the peak the four children fell into a complex and brilliant medieval castle game that I was sad to have to end, so we planned a picnic there next week for a rematch.

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