The bush will bloom and joy will live again

The sun beat down on my back and warmed my blood as I made the short walk down into the lush, grassy paddock.

Opening the metal gate, I was greeted by a loving nudge on the back by my own gentle giant - a brush and a snuff showed her delight in my presence.

A carrot would last all of two seconds around her as she chomped and chewed on it.

We waded through the thick grass to where her tack hung off rusty nails embedded in ancient wood.

The dusty scent of elderberry from the bushes at the bottom of the gully rose through the air, a gentle choir singing sweet stories of summer.

As we made our way to the beach bareback, her coat seemed so glossy and alive, each strand like the reflection on a calm lake.

Being perched upon a half-ton animal having no real control made me feel alive, as her toned legs would power through the soft sand.

Picking up into a trot, I felt the wind filter through my hair and my heart would begin to beat faster and faster.

Ears pricked, standing like knights on guard picking up the smallest sounds, yet nothing would make an impression on her placid nature.

Back at the paddock, it was my duty to tie her up to the old fence post, made ancient by the insane Dunedin weather.

It had grey moss hanging from its extremities and was deteriorating more and more each day.

The tattered, red lead rope was knotted on to the fence and followed up to her cumbersome head.

Scraping the sweat off her post-workout body and brushing her dampened coat, seemed to make her delighted, as if she was getting an all-over body massage.

Crunch, chomp, crunch. I gave her a carrot to reward her good work - once again, it vanished in a matter of seconds.

As I released her, she made an excited neigh and trotted off to the water bath to quench her thirst.

An exceptional old pony with an abundance of energy, Ruby was my life.

Now, as I wander up to the edge of the paddock, I clasp on the metal gate made cold by the poor weather, and walk through.

The cold stabs my skin like pins into a cushion. The gloomy grey clouds loom above my head and threaten imposing rain.

Passing by a solitary dusty saddle, resting on the tree trunk where her bridle used to hang, brings a rock into my throat and tears into my eyes.

The air smells of sadness, damp grass, thin air, mud.

As I walk down the steep gully to her grave, I pass the ageing elderflower bush and pluck a few florets to adorn the top of her dirt-piled grave.

I can see the ghosts of my breath in the cold winter air; they linger for a few seconds before dissipating.

Sitting in the dew-sprinkled grass at the foot of her grave, I can feel a few raindrops fall on to my arm.

The rain sinks into the cold earth and filters through the blades of grass.

The elderflowers sitting on her grave slowly settle into the soft mound of dirt and lie in the still, sad air.

Although the elderflower will soon weep and return into the earth, I know that there will come another day when the bush will blossom and the beautiful scent will once again linger in the air.


• By Lily Collins, Year 11, Queen's High School

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