Old Harness

     Wishing all of you a peaceful Sunday and hoping you have time to reflect on memories of loved ones. It is not always easy for me to write about my grandparents because each one of us, kids and grandkids, have different and unique memories to share, and as with anything, there are always critics. But, I loved the time I spent with my grandpa in the barn, albeit too short at times. I didn’t get a chance to learn teaming very well, and the team I speak of in the poem, Ham & Beans, I never knew, so facts may have faded to memories some when I write. But for me, it’s the memories that count, and I write from the heart of those memories and the feelings they evoke. Here is a new poem I wrote for him to share with all of you. I am forever grateful to be a part of this amazing family. ~Heather

     My grandpa came from a long line of teamsters.  As he got older, teaming was one of his favorite passions because it allowed him to still feel useful and connected to his horses when he could no longer ride.  He had an eye for paint teams, offered community sleigh rides in the winter, shared his love of teaming to any of those that wanted to learn, and possibly, a few that didn’t.  I can remember as a young girl, watching the strength of his hands work the lines of a six, four, or two up hitch with ease and grace.  I can remember feeding the stock with him a few times in the cold winter months with the sleigh; hay bunked high on the bed. The resounding jingle of the bells, the steam rising off the horses’ backs, the smell of hay and the sound of them munching on grain in the crisp, winter evenings in the barn are ingrained in my mind.  I loved this time with him.   Years have passed, and now the old harness hangs dusty in the barn, and it saddens me to think of this lost art, the changes in time that have replaced the man and the horse with a purpose for work, with a machine all in the name of convenience…

Old Harness

In the barn alley hangs the old harness,
Its leather lines are worn and cracked.
There’s dust gathered on the yolk and hames,
The silver buckles and white stitching have turned a faded black.

You see, it didn’t always look this way.
It once hung proudly on a four horse hitch.
A pinto horse team that worked together,
That pulled o’er rock, meadow, snow, and ditch.

The memories flood back when I see it there,
And I can hear him talkin’ to his teams,
As he harnessed up the big guys, “Easy there Pat & Mike,
Good boys, Ham & Beans”.

The sleigh awaited in a skiff of new snow
In the barnyard’s dim winter light.
He lead them out two abreast,
And hitched them to the sleigh just right.

The hired man stood at the head of the team
As Grandpa climbed atop the buckboard
I watched him skillfully take the leather reins in hand,
He called to his team of pintos, “alright boys, get up”.

The blowing of noses, the rising of steam
As the hitch worked together in tow.
The sound of the runners and clank of the double trees,
While they trod their way through the snow.

I can remember looking up at him and smiling,
Listening to him sing his favorite tune.
The grin on his face and the twinkle in his eye
As he looked out o’er the harness lines in the light of the moon.

How I miss these days with Grandpa,
The work, the barn, the smiles, and the teams.
As I stare at the dusty old harness that hangs there,
I remember these days with dreams.

I quietly drift back to reality, 
Standing there in the barn alleyway,
A lone tear trickles down my face, I tip my hat to the man and his harness,
And the horses he loved along the way.
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4 thoughts on “Old Harness

  1. Heather this was beautiful! Love to see his gift of poems and beautiful sentiments passed down to you! This would make a beautiful Christmas card!!

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  2. Well if I can wipe back the tears to see what I type…. love that Heather it reminded me of my Dad who I lost a few years back. It sounds like your Grandpa was a very special man.You have a wonderful way with words girl!!

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  3. Heather you share such precious memories with us, especially precious for those of us who never experienced that reality. Your poem brought me right into the sleigh with you and your grandpa. I could see his smile and hear him sing, hear the harness leather rub together, see the horses breath in the cold air. Thank you for bringing this to us. Your words run deep and clear and speak of things that really matter. Keep it coming!

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