Besides the melting of snow and my husband disappearing into landscaping season, for us there are two things that signal that summer has arrived in Tahoe: the return of the horses and the farmers’ market. The Alpine Meadows Stables sits at the beginning of our road, and the horses serve as a barometer of the weather and the seasons. In the fall when they leave, we know winter is on its way; when they re-appear in the spring, we know the cold is over and the joys of summer are about to begin.
Over the last few weeks, the kids and I have been anxiously awaiting the horses’ return and all that it symbolizes. Every day we would drive past the stables and look for signs of thawing and indications that the cowboys were preparing to bring the horses up from their winter pastures in the foothills. About three weeks ago, we got excited. The stables were free of snow; the recent rain and warm weather had melted it all, sending it into Bear Creek. Then, about a week later, we let out a yelp as we drove by – there were trucks and horse trailers there. For the next few weeks, we competed against each other to see who would be the first to spot a horse, but the horse trailers were empty. Time passed as we watched the cowboys’ progress preparing the stables, clearing the mud and fallen trees, setting up the fences.
Finally, about three or four days ago, we drove by and voila! – five horses. The kids started yelling the names of their favorite horses – Mac and Merrylegs. Everyday, a few more horses arrived until now there are more than 20. As soon as the cowboys put up their sign, we are going in to feed the horses carrots and let the kids go for a ride. For the little ones, the parents guide the children on horseback through a small loop around the stables. For $5, you can’t beat it.
The first time Kaiden rode a pony, he was 2 years old. It was totally unplanned. He had just found his ski goggles and was in his bright red cape-wearing phase and was sporting his green Crocks. I’ll never forget him on that horse, wearing yellow goggles, a red cape, no shirt and green shoes. Quite the Kodak moment, but of course I didn’t have my camera with me.
Besides the horses’ arrival, the Foothill Farmers’ Market also starts this week. We love going there to buy fresh fruit and veggies, especially blueberries which go like hot cakes, and socialize. But the real reason we go is the Balloon Guy. Oskar the Balloon Guy is the hot attraction for the kids. He is like the Pied Piper and at any given time during the day is usually surrounded by at least 10 kids and their moms who encircle him with strollers and bags of produce. Most kids ask for the usual balloon characters – a dog, a cat, etc. But no, not Kaiden. Last year he completely stumped Oskar by asking him to make a skeleton. But Oskar hung in there and used a bunch of white balloons to make something that – to the eyes of a 3-year old – looked like a skeleton. Kaiden was a satisfied customer.
This year, Kaiden has informed me he wants Oskar to make him Batman, and Kaya wants a Barbie. Hmmm, I think Oskar has his work cut out for him.