Thursday, November 4, 2010

the renegade pony and the little prince

I woke to a cold, grey morning - chewed granola and watched clouds roll themselves over the mountain and linger, dropping a steady rain over the forest and fields. As I settled into some work, I received a call, our little pony, who is staying at farm over the mountain while we prepare the barn for her, had escaped and was running around evading all efforts to capture her. She refused apples and sugar. She disappeared into the woods and returned, defiantly tossing her head and kicking up her heals.

I left my work on the table, dragged my son (home from school with a stomach bug) into the car and took off to capture our renegade mare.

When I pulled up I saw her across the field. I was prepared to chase her around in the rain cursing, but she waited as I walked across the field and took hold of her halter. She licked the palm of my outstretched hand, steamy breath lingering above the tall grass.

"You had me drive over here with my sick child in the rain you absolutely naughty little brat!" She just looked at me and her eyes reminded me of a story:

"Good morning," said the fox.

"Good morning," the little prince responded politely, although when he turned around he saw nothing.

"I am right here," the voice said, "under the apple tree."

"Who are you?" asked the little prince, and added, "You are very pretty to look at."

"I am a fox," said the fox.

"Come and play with me," proposed the little prince. "I am so unhappy."

"I cannot play with you," the fox said. "I am not tamed."

"Ah! Please excuse me," said the little prince.

But, after some thought, he added:

"What does that mean-- 'tame'?"

"You do not live here," said the fox. "What is it that you are looking for?"

"I am looking for men," said the little prince. "What does that mean-- 'tame'?"

"Men," said the fox. "They have guns, and they hunt. It is very disturbing. They also raise chickens. These are their only interests. Are you looking for chickens?"

"No," said the little prince. "I am looking for friends. What does that mean-- 'tame'?"

"It is an act too often neglected," said the fox. It means to establish ties."

"'To establish ties'?"

"Just that," said the fox. "To me, you are still nothing more than a little boy who is just like a hundred thousand other little boys. And I have no need of you. And you, on your part, have no need of me. To you, I am nothing more than a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. But if you tame me, then we shall need each other. To me, you will be unique in all the world. To you, I shall be unique in all the world..."

"I am beginning to understand," said the little prince. "There is a flower... I think that she has tamed me..."

"It is possible," said the fox. "On the Earth one sees all sorts of things."

"Oh, but this is not on the Earth!" said the little prince.

The fox seemed perplexed, and very curious.

"On another planet?"


"Are there hunters on this planet?"


"Ah, that is interesting! Are there chickens?"


"Nothing is perfect," sighed the fox.

But he came back to his idea.

"My life is very monotonous," the fox said. "I hunt chickens; men hunt me. All the chickens are just alike, and all the men are just alike. And, in consequence, I am a little bored. But if you tame me, it will be as if the sun came to shine on my life. I shall know the sound of a step that will be different from all the others. Other steps send me hurrying back underneath the ground. Yours will call me, like music, out of my burrow. And then look: you see the grain-fields down yonder? I do not eat bread. Wheat is of no use to me. The wheat fields have nothing to say to me. And that is sad. But you have hair that is the colour of gold. Think how wonderful that will be when you have tamed me! The grain, which is also golden, will bring me back the thought of you. And I shall love to listen to the wind in the wheat..."

The fox gazed at the little prince, for a long time.

"Please-- tame me!" he said.

"I want to, very much," the little prince replied. "But I have not much time. I have friends to discover, and a great many things to understand."

"One only understands the things that one tames," said the fox. "Men have no more time to understand anything. They buy things all ready made at the shops. But there is no shop anywhere where one can buy friendship, and so men have no friends any more. If you want a friend, tame me..."

"What must I do, to tame you?" asked the little prince.

"You must be very patient," replied the fox. "First you will sit down at a little distance from me-- like that-- in the grass. I shall look at you out of the corner of my eye, and you will say nothing. Words are the source of misunderstandings. But you will sit a little closer to me, every day..."

~ Antoine de Saint Exupéry
And so, on this cold, rainy day I realize that my cycle of water carrying,feeding and brushing has tamed this little horse. She had been left alone for so long before we bought her and I wondered if she would respond, whether she felt a need for connection, but now I understand - she was just following taming protocol.


  1. i am always so glad i come read here. it's like a cup of tea with a friend.

    i love this story. it captures my complicated feelings about relationships so beautifully, and with infinitely more grace than the treacle in "Runaway Bunny" and "The Giving Tree."

    lucky pony! i know from our limited acquaintance that you must have a gentle hand.



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