Over a week ago we worked at the Great Brook Farm State Farm in Eastern Massachusetts and we met a man that brought up all kinds of feelings for those of us close to Paul. When I first noticed him I went up to him and told him that he looked almost exactly the same as my late husband and that it was a bit unnerving, the only real noticeable physical difference was his size. Paul was much taller. I wasn’t prepared for how much this wonderful man is LIKE Paul in all kinds of other ways and take a guess what his name is….. Paul.
This Paul is also know as the “Captain” as he is a retired Captain Firefighter and I think he also called the Captain for his long life on the sea, he is from Gloucester and people of Gloucester are people of the sea and his hands prove it. His hands were big and strong, just like Paul’s. He even holds the camera phone the same way Paul did.
Paul writes and sings beautiful ballads of the sea, folk music at it’s best. He even had a song he wrote about a woman that loses the love of her life and her light too until over time she heals and finds love again. He sang it for me and while I still doubt I will ever love again in the way I have with Paul I felt the power in the words he shared and I do believe in the resurrection and renewal the words described.
Zoe and Jay and I all felt a heavy sadness and had trouble excepting the experience but at the same time we felt completely wrapped in the great mystery this world is held in and open to it. What is amazing about the whole experience is that I believe it is an answer to a question or a belief I have had since Paul has died.
Months ago I was sitting on a bench in Church St. in Burlington, Vt. Church St. is a downtown busy street filled with great shops and interesting history. I was waiting for my daughter while she shopped. I looked around at the crowd and began thinking about Paul. I realized that he was so unique that it was unlikely I would ever see anyone like him again. It was a depressing thought and I remember thinking that it is best to not dwell on it. I got up and found Zoe and swallowed back the grief that I could feel rising up in me. It is how I deal with a lot of how I feel about Paul, processing it in quiet and short moments, getting up and moving along, not lingering or letting the (still) very strong pain I feel about it get to me.
I would think about that for the following months, how I had accept that I would never “see” another man like Paul again, I had decided it wasn’t possible without realizing it.
When I stood before this living Paul and listened to him share about his life and music and work in smoke shop I thought to myself, “isn’t it amazing”. Amazing to be proven wrong again by this miraculous and self adjusting Universe we live in. People like Paul, his kind, are alive and well and holding the world together, like Paul, in their own way. Little did I know.
I am grateful to have had this experience and if I am ever in Gloucester I will make sure to visit Paul in his smoke shop. I have decided a long time ago that it is a very good thing to have your assumptions shattered if they hold you in ways that keep you from remembering you are a spirit having a human experience.
What does it all have to do with horses? For me everything since having them in my life has brought me to know the world in ways I never could have dreamed of, including finding and “losing” the man of my dreams. My path with them is not an easy one but the breakthroughs in my own self discovery are well worth it and more and more I am proud of the courage I have to live as I do…. as if it really mattered….. to horses, humans and mother earth.
Brian Jerome has been planning for the Truckfest at McCray’s Farm in South Hadley for a whole year. Last year after attending the event he approached the owners of the farm and asked if he could bring the Blue Star horses with him for the next year and could they be there to represent REAL horsepower. As soon as he got the ok he called me to say that he couldn’t wait for it. Trucks aren’t my thing or just about anything else motorized, but I know what it all means to Brian, so I was very happy for him.
South Hadley is Brian’s hometown and McCray’s Farm has done what all great farms do for the youth that live near them, they give them jobs. Brian and many of his friends have worked or still do work for McCray’s, it is a very special place for them. It is also home to a couple of events that are local “hits”, their super scary Halloween Fright Night (http://www.fearonthefarm.com) a “crazy idea” gone wild on a tractor through the fields of the farm and the annual TruckFest (http://mccrays-farm.com/truck-fest/) where local folks, mostly younger, gather to compete with their monster trucks and ATV’s. Brian is a diesel mechanic and many of his friends are mechanic’s too or what I like to call them “motor heads”. They are all hardworking, although Brian may be the most, they are smart and capable and love motorized vehicles as much as you can. When Brian first starting learning at BSE we wondered if he could adjust to the slower pace of the work horses. Needless to say he has and I think if he had to choose cars, trucks, motorcycles over the horses he would choose the horses. Brian is a life long animal lover and horses, especially the work horses, are some of his newer four legged friends but like the motors he can work on, he excels at everything to do with a horsepower way of life.
When we first started talking to Brian about driving horses we encouraged him, like we do all of our students we have, to take a look at the horse powered world. We encourage them to look at the great american horse powered loggers and farmers and teamsters in America and in Europe, see what they do, how they do it, how they make it their way of life. Brian could easily see a horse powered way of life for himself right from the beginning but it has taken serious perseverance, focus, courage, strength of all kinds, dedication like no other in order for him to have reached the place where he is able to bring the horses to the heart of what he loves in his community, among his family and friends.
This week-end we had different jobs in different places but Brian and the young Shires Tommy and Ben “showed off” at the annual TruckFest. A dream come true for him and a real blessing to the community he calls home. They had the gift of being reminded about something that is just as true for them as it is for anyone with early American roots, these horses are your long lost relatives and friends. They share the path of building America and they were solid partners to the working class people that created a distribution and commercial industry boom ever seen anywhere in the world before. Horses were integral in productivity and distribution for over a hundred and fifty years of our less than 250 years existing as a country. Of course our relationship is much older but how it helped America is profoundly important to how we see ourselves today.
Teamsters, like mechanics today, were meticulous, calculating, creative and handy. Sensitive and open would be some of their other qualities as they would certainly grow to love the horses they worked with and learn to communicate clearly. I over heard Brian say one day that the horses challenge him to be a good communicatior and the technical parts of how harness and rigs work are very interesting to him. He sees similarly in how motors and “draft” power work, as he should, since mechanics have their roots in horse power too. Measurement of motor power is still measured in horse power.
For Brian to bring Tommy and Ben and share them with his community, share his path and life’s work with the community he cares the most about, made it a very important event in Brian’s life.
Brian works under a special contract with BSE for now, until he can have his own horse powered business. I believe Brian will always be with us in some way, we know how much he loves the horses we are here for, the retired, disabled and homeless ones. He also loves his partners Tommy, Ben, Piper, Remix and Punch and Mario. Together they do jobs. It is the only way that BSE can compensate him for the endless work he does in helping keep the farm running , equipment wise and horse powered wise. Brian and the horses are both the beneficiaries of any job and they are always available too! He is taking his time developing his web-site, information and more and hoping that that our farm gets strong and makes it so that he can continue to have the support he needs to build his self-styled way of life . He lives with far less than most but he knows he is headed in a direction that will not only bring him the ability to live and work with horses, it will also bring him the kind of happiness that comes from doing what you love and sharing it too. There is nothing Brian likes more than sharing the horses and their skills with all he knows. If you have job for Brian and his partner Jay don’t hesitate to call, they are always ready, willing and able and if they can’t do it, they know those that can who will help.
We are so grateful for Brian and all he does for the farm and we want the very best future for him, we know that little by little Brian will be a strong local community member, successful, like so many of his friends already are and it will be a very good thing for the future of our planet and most especially the great working horses of our time.
When you support the Blue Star Herd, you are supporting young people like Brian to find a way forward with their working partners. They are learning from those that live horse powered lives and dreaming of their own one day, where they can do good things for the planet with an ancient partner that also brings so much happiness and appreciation everywhere they go and who helps teach a few other things that help us live better by being better and better.