Driving down Neshoba Road takes us right past a local horse farm. White wooden fences, a common sight in horse country, cordon off the property from the rest of the subdivision. The surrounding homes are typical of most suburban neighborhoods built over the past thirty or forty years: red bricks, painted wood, traditional architecture. A few one-story homes dot the area, but most are two-story dwellings.
Overhead, power lines hang from transmission towers, standing guard like giant sentries on a battlefield. Beneath the metal towers are the horses, their pastureland, adjacent roads, and cul-de-sacs.
“There’s the horses,” I say to my daughter, Emily.
We take this route through the western-most part of Germantown almost daily; certainly several times each week. Traveling on Neshoba takes us directly into the heart of Germantown, where the community library, the gym, the post office, Kroger on Farmington, and, more recently, the Trader Joe’s on Exeter, are all just a short car ride away. Since 1995, my family has lived on the Memphis side of the Germantown City limits (see The Heartbeat of a Neighborhood). “Going into Germantown” is a constant refrain in our family.
Behind those white fences along Neshoba Road, “the horses,” as we refer to them, have also been a consistent part of our routine.
There’s nothing particularly special about the horses, but they’re always there, even when it’s just one horse. Periodically, the horses change; at least I assume they do. Driving past them at thirty miles an hour, it’s hard to keep track of specific equines. All I know is that the horses are there, somewhere. Watching. Munching. Playing. Doing whatever it is that horses do.
Maybe wondering why humans always seem to be in a hurry?
Once we clear the intersection of Neshoba Road and Riverdale Road, a calm settles in. The effect may last only a moment or two, but it’s well worth it. We know we have errands to run and appointments to keep, but when we hit that part of Neshoba, where there is pastureland on both sides of the road, we find a temporary respite from our daily worries and our human-made environment.
Emily calls the horse farms a rural oasis in the middle of suburbia.
Maybe seeing horses grazing in a field—hay bales stacked along the back fence—reminds us of simpler times. Not easier times, mind you, but much more straightforward. A time when people worked the land and worked with the land. Horses were a necessary part of that work.
In our present world, simpler would be much better right now.
Even with those massive steel reminders of the 21st Century looming in the background, there’s something peaceful, calming, about the horses.
Recent residential development continues to encroach on our tiny horse country, our rural oasis, in Germantown. We hope the farm’s owners never sell to the developers. Keep it just like it’s been for all these years. That’s our wish. Our hope.
We want to continue seeing the horses, their rolling pasturelands, and those white wooden fences. The horses are a nice contrast to the modern, fast-paced, and interconnected world. A reminder that there are still simple things in life to behold and appreciate.
Having the horses around makes sense to us.
We simply love seeing the horses.
“I wonder where the painted one is?” Emily asks. We’re on our way back from yet another doctor’s appointment. The late afternoon sun lowers itself on the horizon as we drive due west back to our home. Two horses stand near the fence, their tails faintly swishing to some unknown equine beat.
Instinctively, I glance across Neshoba to the larger farm on our right. No horses or cows visible today. In years past, some of the horses from the smaller farm could be seen grazing on the other property.
“Nope, don’t see ’im,” I finally say. I have no idea if the painted horse is a male or a female. Or, that it matters. But I do know the horses are always there. Somewhere.
A calming reminder of simpler times.
Ken Billett has called Memphis home for more than thirty years. A freelance writer, fiction author, and nationally known advocate for skin cancer prevention and research, Ken volunteers his time at the Blues Hall of Fame on South Main in downtown Memphis. When not tending to his flowers, Ken and his wife Vicki travel extensively. StoryBoard Memphis is proud to present Ken’s columns Time Capsules and Get out of Town as ongoing features here on StoryBoard.