Horse Bells

Horse Bells

The sound of horse bells or sleigh bells was one of the happy sounds that I grew up hearing, especially in the winter season. For those of us, who were young, it meant that Christmas was near and we associated the sound of horse bells with Santa, Christmas trees and presents.
Every horse bell had a distinct sound and as kids we would rush to the side of the snow covered road to see who could guess which horse was coming. We knew all the horses and the owners, in our small community of Creston, Newfoundland .Most families had their own horse, so there was no shortage of bells. Horses came in all shapes, colors and sizes but the Newfoundland pony was the favorite.
Slide Paths
All of the families burned wood and coal and there were stock piles of wood in every garden. The path, which was used for hauling wood was called a slide path and there were a number running back into the country. Also, people had their own place to cut wood so there were many paths branching from the main path. Before hauling wood, the path had to be broken or beaten down and branches or wood was laid across places where it was boggy. There were a couple of ponds so the ice had to be strong enough to hold the horse, the slide load of wood and the owner.

Grandfather’s Horse Bells
My grandfather had an older horse and it’s hair was turning gray in places, much like my grandfather’s. He was one of those people that I loved and greatly admired.I knew the sound that his horse bells made.
I recall one particular winter’s day that grandfather had told me that, if the weather was fine, the next morning, he would stop and bring me into the woods with him and we would light a fire and I could ride on top of the wood on the way out. I was so excited as this would be my first trip back in the woods. It was hard to sleep that night.
The next morning I was up bright and early. Mom made breakfast and a lunch for me to take. I also knew that my grandmother would have a treat. Grandfather said that he would be coming up the road at eight that morning so I made sure that I was sitting on our fence that ran along the road. I heard the bells. It was my grandfather. I saw him coming over the hill, waved and waited for him to stop his horse. He kept going. He didn’t stop. I called out but he couldn’t hear me because of bells and the sound the horses shoes were making on the frozen snow. I ran after him as fast as five year old legs could run but I couldn’t catch him.
I was devastated. Grandfather forgot about me. I was named after him and I was his favorite grandson. Tears swelled up in my eyes and I crawled under our dory that was turned over in our garden. Mom didn’t know that her father had forgotten me, I stayed there for four or five hours and than I heard that distinct sound again. It was my grandfather, returning with his load of wood. He stopped by our gate and walked up the path to our house. He told mom that he had forgotten about me. When mom told him that I was waiting for him and that I hadn’t returned home, they were frightened at what could have happened to me. There was fresh snow, so they were able to track me to the over turned dory. There was no way that I was coming out, However, after many promises and offers of a nickel, I came out. Grandfather took me in his arms and told me he was sorry and that he loved me. He placed me on top of the wood and we rode to his house and my grandmother, Everything was ok when she gave me a hug, a glass of syrup and freshly baked bread. That afternoon I went with my grandfather for another load of wood. 

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My Newfoundland Labrador