It was late summer and I was helping my grandfather in his lean-to shed that was once a barn for horses. The old rickety barn smelled of aged alfalfa and the floor was dried clay. My grandfather was looking for horse bridles. We looked all about the barn and hanging on some nails on one wall, we found them looking dried and weatherworn.
“There they are, and boy, do they need some saddle soap,” my grandfather said as he grabbed them. We headed back to the house where my grandmother was bustling away in her kitchen.
When we entered the country farmhouse, my grandmother was working at the kitchen table. “Hi guys, come on in. I am just peeling carrots and getting ready to make some carrot cake,” she said.
Smiling, I sat down beside her while my grandfather went to the cellar where he kept his saddle soap and rags. Returning quickly, he handed me a torn cloth and the two of us began cleaning the bridles and reins. As we worked, my grandmother watched us and said, “This reminds me of a horse that I once heard of in my youth. It was a horse that was seen many times in the Town of Donbridge.”
Many years back, before the town of Donbridge was ever built in the Hudson Valley, Lenape Native Americans lived in the forests. A Lenape boy by the name of Tali had a great blond horse with a black diamond upon its forehead. One day Tali and his horse were near a great gorge hunting a bear that was terrorizing the tribe. While they hunted, the bear came from the side and attacked Tali. During the struggle, the bear stood up to pounce on Tali, but his horse reared up and kicked the bear in the mouth. Unfortunately, during the struggle, the horse fell clear off the cliff. The bear, however, took off and stayed clear of the village. Tali, stricken with grief, climbed down the gorge to pay his last respects to his horse. When he arrived at the ravine's base the horse could not be found.
Years passed and the Lenape people left the valley. Later, European settlers came to the region and began to build the town of Donbridge. One day, the baker of the town, Maggie Blum, was out for a walk. As she crossed a footpath bridge that cleared one of the rivers, the bridge gave way and Maggie fell into the water. Screaming for her life, she began to drown. Just as she took her last breath, a horse with blond hair and a black diamond on its forehead reached into the water and grabbed onto Maggie’s dress, pulling her to the side of the river. Maggie looked up and, as she did, the horse vanished.
Not long after Maggie’s near tragedy at the river, John Sutton, a local historian, was out trapping beavers with his son, Samuel. The two men had just finished checking their traps when a large mountain lion came from a high wooded peak and pounced upon John. Samuel tried to load his musket but dropped the lead ball in the process. Just when things seemed grave for John, a blond horse with a black diamond appeared and reared up against the mountain lion, scaring it into the woods and saving him. When the two men turned to recognize the horse, there was no horse to be found. Puzzled, the men looked for the steed and never found a track or sign it was ever there.
A few months later, Timothy Taylor, a vegetable farmer who lived in Donbridge, was hit with a string of bad luck. His horses had fallen ill and were unable to plow his fields. Timothy and his family relied on his farm to survive through the winter. As there were no other horses available in the town, Timothy set to plow his fields by himself. As he began to work, a blond horse with a black diamond on its head showed up and aligned itself with the plow reins. Timothy was astonished, but seeing that the horse was eager to help, he strapped the plow to the horse and began working the soil. When they had finished, Timothy took a moment to wipe his brow. When he looked up, the horse was gone.
Slowly, everyone in the town began to share similar stories of the horse and soon it became known as the Wandering Horse of Donbridge, keeping good will and happiness in the town.
When Grandmamma finished her tale, she rose from her chair and asked me to take the carrot peelings to her compost pile in the back yard. I grabbed the bowl and walked out to the corner of the property and as I poured out the peelings, a blond horse with a black diamond on its head began to eat the carrots from the ground. I stood in bewilderment. From the porch I heard my grandmother shouting, “Are you coming back inside? The carrot cake is almost done. Don’t worry about making the compost pile neat; let the horse eat it.” I smiled at her and as I turned back to see the horse again it vanished without a trace.
2 c. flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. of salt
1 tsp. of cinnamon
1 c. of grated raw carrots
1 c. of olive oil
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. of vanilla
1/4 c. of chopped walnuts
1 1/2 c. sugar
1 tsp. of nutmeg
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all ingredients together into bowl. Pour into greased 13x9-inch cake pan.
Bake for 40 minutes or until testing stick is clean.