When snow crunches beneath my feet and my breath comes in foggy puffs, I dream of warmer times…
“I want to go horse riding along the beach,” I told my husband on our honeymoon.
We found a stable on Kauai, in Hawaii, that would allow us to ride on the beach and would provide boots and helmets.
I drove our rental jeep through jungle and backroads until we found it: my dream barn. A tropical oasis of perfection. The horses seemed happy and well-cared for, and the barn staff were helpful and kind.
“I could live here,” I thought. “This is what I want.”
We waited, with other riders, under a balmy open-sided tent. A cowboy strode up, his frame throwing us into shadow when he arrived.
“Boots,” he said, “are under a tent this-a-way.”
(Perhaps he didn’t actually say this-a-way, but my brain remembers it that-a-way.)
We followed him to the other open air tent where there were lines of boots on library book shelves. He asked our sizes and found us appropriate footwear.
I tugged on my left boot and felt–something–in the toe. I took it off, shook the boot, and then put it back on.
Twice more I repeated the process.
The third time, I took the boot off, slammed it against the ground, and blinked to clear my vision. A giant armored centipede had slid into the heel of the boot. From the toe. Where my foot had been twenty seconds prior.
“Excuse me,” I told the cowboy. “There’s something in my boot.”
“I checked your boot before I gave it to you,” he said, his voice gruff.
I turned the boot to show him and he screamed like a little girl. He tipped the centipede onto the ground and stomped on it until it stopped moving.
“If you’d have been bit by that thing, it woulda felt like a gunshot wound. You’d be in the hospital for two or three days,” he said, visibly shaken.
I rode the horse, Morning Star, on the trail ride, but I didn’t enjoy it. I’d convinced myself that those boots contained centipede babies who would bite my toes in revenge for their mama’s untimely death.
Michigan isn’t so bad. At least we don’t have armored centipedes.
I put on my