DATELINE: Mr. Ralph Arrives at Stage Depot in Sky.
A weekend In mid-April in Boston can be overwhelming: the calendar will fill up quickly with Boston’s Marathon weekend, Boston’s Patriots Day when the British evacuated Beantown. There is also the anniversary of Wilkes Booth shooting Abe Lincoln, and the commemoration of the sinking of the Titanic. Throw in Palm Sunday, and your datebook is overwhelmed.
Our burdens increased at Mill Circle on this 107th anniversary of Titanic’s meltdown, and the 154th year after Booth killed the President at Ford’s.
We noticed on the cold, rainy morning that Mr. Ralph, the giant shire horse who lives in our Great Barn, did not emerge with the other four stablemates.
The shire horse is bigger than a Clydesdale. Mr. Ralph clocked in at 2000 pounds and 32 years of age. Earlier this week, he had fallen down in the corral and took nearly half-an-hour to regain his footing. He kept resting his head back on the grass.
We know he was overworked even in retirement. Earlier that morning, he had been saddled and ridden for an hour.
Now on a day that we usually only make a short trip to Riverside Cemetery to visit Richard in his grave and his mother Edith in an unmarked area next to him, we had commotion next door.
We had never seen a super-large horse ambulance, brought in from some visiting town, vets, rescue workers, and assorted onlookers. A dozen cars and pickups clogged our small Mill Circle. It took a while for them to put straps on Mr. Ralph, put a stretcher under him, and have a truck drag his body out of the barn.
Yes, it was undignified for the glorious old beast. Yet, it was better than being stewed up for glue or gelatin. The other horses in the corral were agitated by the event.
As much of respect could be found when a gray tarp was put over his massive dead lump of mottled golden brown hide.
When we returned from our pilgrimage to Richard’s grave, they were taking each of the other four horses over to Mr. Ralph to show them their fallen comrade. The tarp was lifted, and each horse spent as much time as he wanted at the body. It was a strange ritual: one horse wanted nothing much to do with it. A mini-horse mate spent considerable time looking and nodding.
Two others kept bending down to sniff him and raise their heads. It was a repeated action.
Later we learned that Mr. Ralph would be buried behind the Great Barn of Mill Circle, perhaps near the grave of the unknown murdered peddler of 1826 whose burial spot remains unknown. His ghost haunts the barn. Perhaps Ralph saw him during his tenure at Mill Circle.