I had a dream last night of being on my aunt's farm.
It was very clear--that vivid, clear dream you sometimes get just before you wake up. I had gone back to the farm. I knew that she had died and that her horses were all gone. I had just gone back to walk through the buildings and see what had changed.
I was walking down an aisle in the side barn, a converted chicken coop/vehicle shed which had about six stalls in an odd arrangement. The aisle was much longer than it was in real life. The stalls were to my left. Then rain began to fall just in front of every stall, as if it were coming through a two-foot-long strip in the roof. The dirt floor of the aisle stayed dry.
Then I was in a back pasture. Near a gate was a large grey, black and white pinto gelding I had never seen before. A teenage girl was trying to lead him out of the pasture, but he wouldn't budge. I didn't recognize her either.
Then the former barn manager came by, looking as she did in 1991: short, spiky hair and tough attitude. She was leading a stallion I knew, one which was her very favorite and later ended up buying from my aunt's widower. The girls were yelling at each other.
"Don't lead him in here!"
"But he hates him!"
"Yeah, I know! Let me get Ned in there! We'll chase yours out!"
Some screaming and circling of horses, chuffing, two young girls yelling at horses to "Quit it!" And then the gelding and handler very sedately walked past. The gelding was a really odd color, and I was trying to figure out why he looked so weird. (I realize now that he was a pinto with brown and white splotches, but that I dreamed him in black and white--he had various patches of grey-tone which looked bizarre.)
Then Ned came by. But he was wearing some strange contraption which looked as if it had been cut from breeding hobbles. (Mares sometimes wear breeding hobbles to prevent kicking at a stallion. It's two padded straps encircling the mare's hocks connected to a strap around the belly. She can stand or walk very slowly, but she can't kick backwards.)
Ned had the "breeding hobbles" attached to only one rear leg, and he had too many other straps going round and round his belly. I was just about to ask why he wore this thing, when I looked out over his back into the distance.
Beyond him was a pasture with ten or twelve horses in it. I didn't recognize them individually, but in the dream I knew they had all lived at my aunt's farm at some point. They were all wearing driving harnesses, the long reins and traces looped up into curls and buckles to keep from dragging on the ground. Wearing blinders, full bridles, and harnesses, they were nonchalantly grazing in the sun.
And then it started raining right in front of me. A straight line of rain, only about three feet long, no more than a few inches wide, sparkling and snapping upon hitting the ground. I could feel the rush of air from the rain so close to my face. And the horses were no longer there, or at least I became so focused on watching the rain that I didn't see them anymore.
I'm not sure that all means. I'm tempted to read quite a lot into the idea that I'm holding on to those horses, harnessing them in my memory. Except maybe for Ned--his "harness" was disturbing. (But it could also be some sort of mental confusion of him with Barbaro: injured hind leg.)
Odd too that in this dream, I'm very much aware that Joyce is truly dead. I often have dreams where I'm going back to her farm and discover that she's somehow still alive, that her death was all some odd mistake. And in this dream I was very clear that I was the age I am now, whereas the horses and the people were the way they looked fifteen years ago.