The wind forced the trees to mimic a buggy whip as it ushered in a spring rainstorm. It was the kind of storm that is common in Tooele Valley this time of year, and it made me feel grateful to be inside my car as I made my way home from a meeting.
The water pelted my car and made looking through the side windows difficult — a blurred reality. In fact, as I took a glance to my right, I worried whether my peripheral vision was accurate. I had to look again.
And then I slowed the car and saw a sight I had never seen before. Had my friend Terry Ehlers been looking through the windows of his home, he would have laughed at the look of disbelief on my face.
As they instinctively do, one of Terry’s horses was standing rump to the wind and rain — no surprise there. But between the front and rear legs, below the belly of the horse, stood two goats. They had a belly for a roof! After I got over my astonishment, I smiled and admired their ingenuity.
I also admired the horse. She stood stoically for the benefit of the smaller creatures. I watched as the wind blew the strands of her long flowing tail. The rain caused her skin to quiver, yet she stood tall, a monument to goodness, shelter, safety for the weak. It made me want to be more like her and nurture those same qualities in me.
Luckily, you and I don’t have to be as strong as a horse to provide shelter, safety and strength for our families and neighbors. We only need to incorporate the four legs of a horse.
First, we must be able to stand by ourselves, take the steps to be self-sufficient and put away a little extra to share with others.
Second, we must get to know our neighbors one-on-one. Make an effort to know them by name, what they like to do, where they work.
Third, on other days when I’ve driven past Terry’s pasture, I’ve seen the goats and horses standing, walking or eating together. Nothing creates better rapport than breaking a little bread or going on walks with your neighbor. You have to eat and walking is great for you. Why not take a walk or eat together once in a while?
Fourth. Know what to do when a crisis comes. Horses put their rump into the wind to weather any storm. It protects the vital parts of their body. Terry’s goats know how the horses will react during stormy weather and they know they can depend on their strength.
By reaching out, our neighbors will know if we’re people of steady character as well. By allowing them to get to know us, they’ll instinctively know they can count on and come to us when they need help. That’s what good neighbors do.
Lynn Butterfield lives in Erda and is a managing broker for a real estate company.