Thursday, November 15, 2007

Riding Cowgirls Ranch

Jodie and I took the most bracing ride yesterday. The air was crisp enough to put the horses on their toes, and all the way over to Lori Hahn's place, Riding Cowgirls Ranch, Trickster made me pay real good attention. She kept sidestepping and wanting to break into canter. Amelia, Jodie's mare, was full of herself too.

Finally, when the woods opened up onto that big field that runs alongside the creek, Jodie said, "We might as well let them get it out of their systems, Margo."

I agreed, so we turned them loose and had one of the wildest rides ever. By the time we trotted up to Lori's house, we were giddy as all get out on endorphins and adrenaline. Lori heard the hoofbeats and popped out her front door looking all expectant.

Gotta tell you, if there was ever a woman who looked good after getting all cowgirled up, it's Lori. Dang!

Lori said, "Damn! Just what I always wanted - two flushed and panting women on sweaty horses."

Jodie cracked up. "Not very original, Lori. Isn't that every girl's dream?"

"Well, to tell the truth, in my ultimate dream Sela Ward is one of the women. Or both." Lori ran her eyes up and down Jodie and me. Kinda got me squirming, I don't know about Jodie. Then Lori added, "Of course, ya'll do quite nicely."

Dang, those California women have a way about them.

On our way to Lori's kitchen we passed an autographed photo of Sela Ward on a tall marble-top table in the foyer.

I said, "Hey, you weren't kidding about her, were you?"

Lori's eyes lit up. "Not one bit. Matter of fact, she called yesterday to arrange a visit next week. Wants to see my new place."

"You're kidding."

Lori put her hand on her heart. Well, on the ample assets resting just over her heart. "Swear. Last summer, by the grace of the goddess, I ended up trapped in an elevator with Sela, and...well, we have kept in touch ever since." She drifted off for a few seconds and when she refocused on us, she asked, "Where's the Mighty Heart Rustler? Where's Starr Ann?"

No use in going into all the menstrual motivation behind Starr Ann being in one of her bunkers, so we just said she had gone underground for a couple days.

Lori really snapped out of her Sela stupor then. "Would you two like to see my bunker?"

I'm kinda used to the concept by now, but Jodie's eyes just about leaped across the room. "You have an underground shelter, too?"

Lori finished swallowing a bite of one of the delicious scones she'd served us. "Of course."

Jodie slowly swung her head back and forth. "Just three months ago, before moving here, I'd have scoffed at the idea such things even existed. Now, I am personally acquainted with three lesbians who have them - you, Starr Ann, and Celia Susan. Bizarre."

Lori gathered up our plates as she said, "Not really strange, when you think about it a certain way."

Jodie laughed. "And what certain way is that?"

"Tell you a little story. On my thirtieth birthday, a friend of mine, Uncle Doreen, jokingly said, 'Lori, you emerged from the womb thirty years ago, and you've done your best to get back into one ever since.'" Lori smiled fondly and continued, "Doreen was being funny, but it's not all that far from the truth, is it? And if you think about it, the Earth is the ultimate female. So, burrowing into Her is as natural as can be."

All of a sudden, I remembered one of Starr Ann's favorite literary passages. I said, "Goddess, you're serious aren't you? Lori, are you familiar with Willa Cather's novel My Ántonia?"

Lori wrapped her arms around me and hugged me a little bit too hard, saying, "Damn, girl! Bingo!"

Jodie said, "What just happened? I don't get it."

So I explained. "Starr Ann adores this one particular passage in My Ántonia, Jodie. She thinks it's about the most beautiful imagery ever put in words. It's near the very end of the book, when Jim returns to find Ántonia settled down after having born a bunch of children. And she and the children are so proud of their simple things, and they want to show him their fruit cave. Starr Ann almost loses it every time she says that name - the fruit cave. She gets amazed all over again at Cather's sheer audacity, in 1937 no less, in writing a scene that takes place in the main character's very womb."

Right then, Lori got all excited and took over. "Yes! Starr Ann and I have to talk about this sometime. The fruit cave! Genius. And Jodie, they actually go into this place, this underground room, the Earth Mother Herself. And the younger of Ántonia's girls don't speak English. Here's one of my favorite moments of the fruit cave visit: Nina and Jan, and a little girl named Lucie, kept shyly pointing out to me the shelves of glass jars. They said nothing, but glancing at me, traced on the glass with their finger-tips the outline of the cherries and strawberries and crab-apples within, trying by a blissful expression of countenance to give me some idea of their deliciousness. Have you ever heard writing like that in your entire life?"

Jodie was impressed as hell. "Where was my brain the first time I read that novel? I have to reread it."

I said, "Do, Jodie, and then bring it up with Starr Ann." I turned to Lori, "The part right after they emerge from the fruit cave blows Starr Ann's doors off."

Lori quoted again. "We turned to leave the cave; Ántonia and I went up the stairs first, and the children waited. We were standing outside talking, when they all came running up the steps together, big and little, tow heads and gold heads and brown, and flashing little naked legs; a veritable explosion of life out of the dark cave into the sunlight. It made me dizzy for a moment."

Jodie said, "Is your bunker near here, Lori? I'd truly like to see it."

A huge smile broke over Lori's face. "Matter of fact, I planned to go there this very afternoon, to get it ready for Sela's visit."