The Literary Corner: Renegade Writer’s Guild

Published 9:30 am Thursday, September 13, 2018

Partners for Life

By Julie Terry Cartner

Heart thudding in my chest, I waited tensely for the flag to drop. Even starting a hair-breadth early would result in a disqualification, but even that same amount of a late start could add a tenth of a second, enough to move me out of the winner’s circle. Taking a deep, calming breath, I rubbed the neck of my quarter horse, his nerves stretched almost as tightly as mine.

He, sorrel coat shining like a new penny beneath the barely controlled muscles of a stallion in his prime, and I, dressed in my regulation western shirt, red to match the feather in my black cowboy hat, muscles tense and ready, had become a team, slowly earning the respect of others who had been there far longer than we had.

Finally, the competitor before me cleared the arena, the judge nodded his readiness, and the flag dropped. Not even needing to cue my steed, we raced across the arena floor, shiny hooves sending up clouds of dust as his stride lengthened, almost flying towards the first barrel. Leaning into the first turn, no distinction between his body and mine, we slid around the first barrel, cutting it so closely it wobbled, but then returned to its upright position. By then we were halfway to the second one. Again, a quick slide, a faster turn, and on to the hardest one, the third barrel.

Assessing the previously made tracks in the dirt, I allowed my horse to soar, then reigned him in for a quick spin around the third. Anticipating the bump, I reached out and held the barrel down, letting it spin under my palm, while his hooves briefly slid, then gathered purchase on the soft earth.

Safely around the third and headed home, full power now. I leaned forward over his honey colored mane and encouraged him, no crop necessary. He ran because he loved it and because he loved me.

My mind went back to the hours, days, weeks and months it had taken to earn this stallion’s trust and develop the partnership we had formed. Hot. Dusty. Dirty. Sore. Frustration. Discouragement. Exhaustion. Then finally, Success! It had all been worth it. Every second. We had formed a bond, never to be broken.

Within seconds we flew across the finish line, a full two seconds faster than our closest competitor. “And that’s how you do it,” shouted the announcer. With a wave to the roaring crowd, and a nod of appreciation to the announcer, we exited the stadium. More runs would follow ours, but I had little doubt we’d won. Nobody knows better than horse and rider when you’ve scored a perfect run.

Sliding from his back, I loosened the girth, gave my Miki a hug and walked him until he cooled down and our hearts settled into a more steady rhythm. Keeping an eye on the rest of the competition, we walked slowly until our breathing regulated and the competition ended. Unsurprisingly to me, we won. Quickly tightening his girth once again, I remounted and entered the arena to the cheers of the crowd as we took our victory lap.

The Faberge Eggs

By Linda Barnette

From 1885 until 1916 a Russian jeweler named Peter Carl Faberge designed and produced a total of 50 Imperial Easter eggs. He made them for the wives of Tsar Alexander II and his son Nicholas II.  These eggs were made as gifts for the Tsarinas Maria and then Alexandra.

The eggs were somewhat like the Russian nesting dolls because they were made with several parts ranging from larger to smaller.  When each egg opened, it contained several items and finally a piece of jewelry. The very first one was a gift to Tsar Alexander’s wife in 1885.  It was made of white enamel, which, when opened, had a gold yolk and then a small golden hen that opened to reveal a ruby pendant.

After Alexander’s death, Faberge created 2 eggs per year, one for his wife and one for his mother.  Typically, the designer depicted things of importance to the royal family.  Several had portraits of family members painted on them while others showed historical Russian events.

During the February Revolution of 1917, caused by famine, starvation, and the general hardships of life for the peasants, Nicholas and his family were sent into exile by the Bolsheviks and all eventually murdered on July 17, 1918.  All of them, Nicholas, Alexandra, their son Alexei, the sickly heir to the throne, and their daughters Olga, Tatania, Maria, and Anastasia, were shot in the heads and buried in a mass grave.  Their bodies were undiscovered until 1979.  DNA proved their authenticity, and in 1998 the family was buried near Nicholas’s ancestors in St. Petersburg.

The 50 Imperial eggs were looted and transported to Moscow in 1918.  Some were sold to private individuals; 10 are in the Kremlin Armoury Museum; some were sold to private collections and art dealers; the British Royal Family has 3 of them; others reside in various museums, including the Metropolitan in New York.  At least 7 of them are still missing.

It is amazing to me that they are still of such interest after over 100 years.  For me they represent an age that has essentially passed, a time when royalty was beautiful but excessive; the romance of Nicholas and Alexandra; the incredible beauty of the objects; the tremendous talent of Faberge; but mostly the mystery of the missing eggs.  It was the end of a tumultuous era in history.