February 3, 2016

A Blur Of Green

When I was younger, probably in about grade five, I used to go horseback riding on a regular basis, about once a week, with the Canal Community Alliance, a group that helped those of us living in the Canal- the poorer part of the very wealthy Marin county, have fun and explore the world around us. The CCA gave us opportunities that we wouldn’t have had otherwise. Horseback riding once a week at Miwok Stables out passed Tennessee Valley road was one such opportunity.

We would arrive at the stables after school and begin the process of our weekly lesson- lead the horse out of the stables and prepare them for the ride; we would saddle them up and put on the bit and bridle. Then we would usually have a riding lesson in the round pen on the grounds of the stables, followed by the break down of the gear and the cleaning of the horse. I can still smell the blanket and remember the froth of sweat and soap as we lathered and rinsed off the horses.

We usually were assigned the same horse and mine was named Chica. She was a slight golden Palomino, who as far I was concerned was made of gold. I loved her smaller frame, slightly neurotic nature and her not so subtle sense of flash, all of which reminded me of myself.

Some days, if Chica was out with another ride, I would get stuck riding Sade; she was a giant mare with zero personality. She was a horse that you would need to kick to death to get her to even raise her head and stop for a second from grazing on some shrub just outside her paddock.

But not Chica. She knew me and I knew her. Sometimes all it would take to get her going was a quick clicking on the inside of my cheek, and to be honest, sometimes even less than that, and we would be off.

I rode at Miwok for at least a year, maybe more. Perhaps Trista can help me fill in the details as she was there too. In our time riding, we learned how to move the horses from a walk, to a trot, to a cantor, to nearly a gallop.

I’ll never forgot one long ride, must have been a special weekend ride, when we rode our horses down to the Pelican Inn near Muir Beach. On the way down, we were allowed to break up our typical single file line of walking and trotting and let the horses run.

I remember getting Chica up to a full paced fluid cantor. It felt like we were alone in the wilderness- jumping over small creeks, the trees a blur of green, and ducking from the low hanging vines. It felt like hours as the two of us broke into a sweat as we traversed down the mountain to the beach.

Later that year, Chica and I entered a show and did quite well. I had the second, or was it first place, ribbon in a box of my stuff for years, but it has since disappeared.  We were not meant for shows or ribbons. Chica and I were made to gallop through the west Marin forest. Tired and exhausted. Moving way too fast.

I loved that horse.


I am sorry I got a bit snappy with you today after you told me that you couldn’t come to our Daraja meeting o Thursday. I reacted to your excuse with anger and frustration, and as your teacher and mentor, this was childish of me. I understand that you are dealing with some stuff, and I can appreciate and understand how hard that can be at your age. I am sure you do not need someone like me barking at you in the hallway.

Sometimes, we adults, lose sight of how hard it can be to be twelve. I remember when I was your age, feeling like no one was ever listening and no one really cared about me. Teachers were always yelling out of anger and frustration and dealing with me like I was a problem and not a person. I swore I would never do that when I became a teacher, but there I was doing it today.

So again I am sorry.

It's just that I want you to learn the very important lessons of honouring your commitments, staying with things when they are hard, respecting the people who care for you...the listen goes on and on.

The only interaction we have had is through service, but I do see you in the halls. Who knows, maybe next year you might be in my class, or our paths might cross in a different way. I hope that when we do meet under different circumstance that we can find a way to get to know each other a bit better, and I might be able to help you sort out whatever it is that you are trotting to sort, and teach you some of those lessons in a different setting.

Best of luck, we will miss you on Thursdays. I am sorry that the GC was not what you were looking for. Who knows maybe one day you might change your mind, and I can take you to Kenya and show you why the work we are doing is important.

In the mean time, find something that gives you joy and feeds your passion. If you are not sure what makes you happy or keeps you going- relax. That is okay too. It has taken me nearly forty years to figure it out.

Be a kid. Be kind. Ask for help and you will find your way.

Apologetically yours,

Mr. R

Ted Cruz is gross and creepy and he makes me feel dirty every time I see his face. I don’t think I could physically handle his presidency. I am quite certain he is a criminal and a monster. I just wish he would go away from public life, and return to what ever backwoods Texan church parking lot he lurks in.


  • Our memories sit half-baked in our minds waiting to be thrown back into the kiln, but they will not look the same now as they did back then. 
  • Apologizing to a child is one of a teacher’s most important skills. We should do it way more often than we do. 
  • I've never seen a Republican I like. 


  1. Share a childhood memory that brings you joy. 
  2. Tell us about an apology that you should have made but for some reason didn’t. 
  3. Which current candidate gets under your skin the most and why? 

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