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Prairie Dreams: Duke and Earl (standard:adventure, 1055 words)
Author: drksideofthemoonAdded: Jul 26 2007Views/Reads: 1528/928Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
Memories from the Alberta prairies.
 



drksideofthemoon© 2006 

My Uncle Harry was an old man when I was young. Actually, he was my
great-uncle, my grandmother's brother. I can still see him, his black 
hair combed straight back. He was a giant of a man to an eight year 
old. In reality he was only about five-seven, maybe five-eight. 

His face had been weathered by close to seventy Alberta summers and
winters. A pair of bright blue eyes shone out from that wrinkle laden 
face. We used to laugh about his old fashioned pants that fastened up 
above his waist and held up by a pair of suspenders that had probably 
first seen action in the First World War. 

He had his Sunday shirt on, with the same style of springy steel arm
bands that all the old men wore. Around his neck was the same tie that 
he had worn to church, weddings and funerals for the best part of two 
decades. 

Today was the opening day of the fair, and the day of the parade. All
manners of tractors, trucks, combines and other farm machinery would be 
lined up with the Lion's Club Marching Band. Floats from the banks and 
other local business were always a staple. Members of the RCMP would be 
in their scarlet tunics, Stetson hats, and tall riding boots, carrying 
the Union Jack and provincial flags. Veterans from the Legion would be 
wearing their blue blazers with their medals clinking as they marched 
proudly. 

Uncle Harry was one of the few farmers in the district that still kept
teams of horses. He had been invited to join the parade, near the 
front. He was to represent yesterday. 

Duke and Earl were the horses he would use that day. They were a nearly
match pair of Clydesdales. Uncle Harry had spent days grooming the two 
horses, washing and brushing them, and trimming their manes and tails 
until they were perfect. After the manes had been trimmed, my aunt 
braided them with red and blue ribbons. 

The white stockings on their legs gleamed in the early morning sunlight.
Each hair of their feathered hooves was perfect. Long hours had been 
spent polishing the harnesses and reins. 

The old hay wagon had received a new coat of brown paint, and any
missing boards had been replaced. Bales of straw had been stacked two 
and three high. 

I was a young boy enamored with anything mechanical. I loved the
tractors. I thought the horses were dreadfully old-fashioned. But, on 
that morning, seeing Duke and Earl hitched up to the hay wagon I saw 
something I had never seen before, the supreme majesty of the heavy 
horse. 

To a young boy they looked absolutely massive standing there patiently,
waiting for my uncle to give them the command to move. Earl ignored me. 
Duke looked down at me with his big eyes and shook his head 

"You want to come along?" My uncle looked at me. 

"Oh yes!" I exclaimed. 

Harry winked at my mother and set me up on the hay wagon. "We'll meet
you in town." 

He took the reins in his hand and yelled to the horses, "Giddap there!" 

We were moving, the sound of the horses iron shod hooves on the gravel
and the bells on the harness broke the morning silence. 

The two horses amazed me, it seemed that it took them no effort
whatsoever to pull us down the road. Suddenly my uncle handed me the 
reins. "Here, you can drive for a while." 

I looked up at my uncle to make sure that he was serious. He smiled down
at me and winked. "Just keep the tension on the reins." 

When we got into town my uncle took over the reins again. We made our


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