... I appeared, squalling and protesting the ham-fisted efforts
of my mom's doctor to drag me into this world.
When my daddy saw me for the first time, he looked
at my long legs and skinny, bruised frame and
christened me "Sally Bedslats" on the spot.
I've been "Slats" or "Shanks" ever since.
I don't remember my family as being big on recording
our lives on film, so there are very few pictures around of me,
my brother, or sister. This is the only one I have, probably because
I remember when it was taken. From the time I was a toddler,
I've loved horses; the pages on my little dictionary were
worn and dog-eared at the spot for "H is for Horses"
because I'd stare at the artist's drawings for hours.
One summer afternoon, I was playing in the yard when I saw a man
walking up our street, carrying a big camera on a wooden tripod
over his shoulder and leading a black and white pony.
I begged my mom to have my picture taken on the pony;
I was in heaven, thrilled beyond belief to be sitting on the back
of a real horse. To this day, I can remember the smell of the leather
saddle and the pony, the feel of my hands on the pommel,
and my bare feet in the stirrups. I believe my little brother had his picture
taken as well, but mine is the only one that survives, possibly
because the love of my life, a real live pony, walked up
my sidewalk and I got to sit on his back for a few minutes.
When I look at this picture and think across the years in between,
I see a sweet, happy child and I love her to bits.
Happy Birthday, little girl.