Repurpose. A favorite word of mine. From the time I watched Molly Ringwald’s character stitch two unfashionable dresses into one masterpiece in Pretty In Pink I’ve loved the concept. Perhaps in part because it requires a certain flair of imagination, and because it gives new life to something that might otherwise be retired. Useless. Thrown out.
Yes, I’m a pack rat. A collector. Not quite a hoarder. But more than that, I enjoy giving things a second chance, as if at the end of one life they appear used up, but if you squint and really look at this object, you can come up with a second life for it. A new purpose.
My cousin Sandy lives with me. She is the cook in our family and by that token, she rules the rather large kitchen in my older farm house. Even with a table and chairs in it, my kitchen is too spacious not to have an island. We’ve had several, all of a temporary nature as we weren’t sure what we wanted. Recently, Sandy purchased a small server that she found on Craigslist. The rest of its fellow dining room brethren had been sold and this little server stood alone. The cherry laminate was starting to buckle a bit on the top and it needed a good sanding and a touch of tong oil, but it was just the right size for my kitchen as a retro-repurposed island. My cousin's friend who is a wizard with woodworking created a butcher block top for the server. It is stunning and unique! Everyone who sees it, falls in love with it. Alone, it was a $25 server that was closer to being kindling than a useful piece of furniture again. Now, it’s a conversation piece, as well as a functional center to my kitchen.
I feel this way about animals too. Five years ago, I was scrolling through pages of photos of horses that were currently on a kill dealer’s lot. The horses had a week to enchant someone over the internet with their pictures and videos before being sent to slaughter. Every week I looked at those faces, some of them being photographed for the last time. I wanted to bring them all home but I had to be realistic.
Until November 2010.
While munching away at my usual breakfast of eggs and toast, I saw him. Liver chestnut, reportedly a Morgan without papers, wide, oddly shaped blaze. I pulled up all his pictures. I watched his video endlessly looking for lameness, attitude – anything that would explain why he was on the lot. Nothing. I thought about him all day. And the next day. And the day after that. Something about this liver chestnut gelding was sticking with me, but what was it? Nothing specific that I could pinpoint. All I knew was that he could not ship to slaughter – my gut told me that I could not let that happen.
I have no idea what his name was in his previous life, or why he answers to his new moniker but he always has. Perhaps it’s that he knows he’s mine and I’m his. Perhaps he’s just highly intelligent – he is always pulling something new from his bag of tricks. He bows and counts, much to the delight of guests. He neck reins and moves off my leg. He was an Amish buggy horse before I acquired him – his shaved forelock and road shoes gave him away. He has intermittent lameness issues and my equine dentist put him right around 20 years old. I fear one or both of these factors caused him to fail as a road horse and dropped him into the auction circuit.
But there are so many wonderful things about Galahad! He adjusts his mannerisms to his rider and only gives them what they can handle. I assume because of his Amish days, he never thinks to canter under saddle. It’s relaxing to know he’ll never try to take off with a green rider or a kid. Galahad is currently teaching my 7 year old nephew that horses aren’t something to be afraid of, but rather something wonderful and safe. He tolerates multiple sessions of my nephew just sitting on him, learning how to steer. He is patient and solid. Galahad has also taught my niece about herself. At times, he is the calm in the center of her turbulent teenage years.