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Next time you nearly wreck or get maimed, take a breather

Horses don’t speak English, as far as you know, but they sometimes look like they know exactly what you’re saying.
Horses don’t speak English, as far as you know, but they sometimes look like they know exactly what you’re saying.

To “take a breather” used to mean something, when I was growing up, and now the older I get, the more I take.

Take an example, of taking a breather, from this story I heard long ago, before U.S. 431 South was a four-lane, and folks headed to the beach had to take the two-lane highway through Seale, Ala., passing right in front of the White Spot grocery and the Possum Trot restaurant.

Now, I did not see this myself – like I’m accountable only for my own apocryphal childhood tales and can’t vouch for what someone else makes up – but what I heard was that a summer storm hit there one day and dropped so much rain it turned the highway in a shallow creek.

It was during this downpour that a guy driving his sedan south to the beach came cruising through, and he hydroplaned so that his car spun a complete 360 degrees, like for a moment he got to see all four directions, facing west and then north and then east and then back south before the car stopped, pointed in the direction it began with.

The driver sat there a moment before carefully pulling of the road and going into the store to have soft drink, sit quietly, and take a breather.

Why not? He was still three hours from the beach. It was a good place to pull over, and have a Coke and a smile, the pause that refreshes.

I paused this past Saturday to have a Mountain Dew and take a breather.

I was brushing a horse tied to a fence with a pony on the other side, and the nosy hyperactive pony got in the horse’s face, probably, and that’s why the horse abruptly wheeled and kicked, and just barely missed hitting my left knee dead-on.

By two inches, I figured, as I limped away cursing the mare in gender-specific terms mixed company would have precluded.

Why not? The horse doesn’t speak English – she’s not “Mr. Ed,” you know; Mr. Ed never tried to break Wilbur’s leg – so it’s not like she kicked me because she knows what I mean when I say….

OK, maybe she does. Anyway, that’s not the point, which is that her kick caught me just a little to the far side of the knee I broke jumping off a fence two years ago. So that knee has a lot of screws and hinges or whatnot in it now, and that kick came just two inches shy of undoing a lot of expensive surgery.

It would have been undone in just an instant, too: kick-gone. Call the clinic. The idiot broke his leg again.

“Take a breather,” I thought. It’s time for a refreshing cola.

After I put the horse back in the pen with the donkey so she could kick it instead, I had to get groceries, so I went to Publix and limped around thinking, “This hurts more than a regular bruise,” and when I finally got home and pulled up my pants leg to look at the swollen red-blue softball-size bulge aside my knee, I cursed the horse again.

And then I put a bag of ice on my leg, made a refreshing drink, and took a breather.

Keep that in mind, as summer ends with the fall equinox at 9:54 p.m. Saturday, and the days grow shorter until the December solstice at 5:23 p.m. Dec 21. The last few months of the year can be stressful, and dangerous, what with Christmas and hurricane season and all, so a close call or two could make your head spin, or leave you badly bruised.

Don’t freak out. Feel lucky. Kick back. Have a drink. Take a breather.