Getting Handel on a farmer’s ‘big night out’

Published 9:35 am Wednesday, March 26, 2008

When you live in the country and own livestock, the thought of a night out on the town is batted away like a gnat.

&dquo;What do you mean, &squo;let&squo;s go downtown for dinner and try out that new wine bar?&squo;&dquo; I have replied with the same incredulousness as if Paul had suggested I run naked through the field during horse-fly season. Again.

It simply cannot be done. In the evening, the horses, with their annoyingly fragile stomachs, need to fed at roughly the same time every day: 5 p.m.

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They&squo;re brought in, one by one, protective splint boots removed, to immaculate stalls and after their feed, it&squo;s necessary to pick out the droppings to save a bit of extra work in the morning.

&bsp;Then, to see them through the night, they&squo;re usually thrown a bit more hay at 8 p.m. On top of this, I don&squo;t like leaving the terriers in the house, unsupervised, for more than four hours because, well, they&squo;re terriers. Last time Paul and I made the mistake of staying out longer, we returned to find a throw pillow in the latter stages of being disemboweled and several tacky ornaments ordered from the Home Shopping Network.

So you can imagine my dilemma when I was lucky enough to have a new acquaintance wrestle up box seat tickets to see one of the world&squo;s great Sopranos, Renee Fleming, performing her only American Recital of 2008, right down the road at The Peace Center.

I adore Ms. Fleming. Having been mesmerized by her once before in Los Angeles, I simply had to see her again. It is quite possible that one can experience a sliver of the hereafter by listening to her shimmering voice produce the hypnotic, &dquo;Hymn to the Moon,&dquo; as well as the beloved, &dquo;O mio babbino caro.&dquo; By gum, I would go to the ball!It took a day of crunching chores and rushing. Horses were schooled under saddle before noon, tack was cleaned, as were stalls. A quick trip to the feed store as well as grabbing a few groceries were done with precision. I telephoned my mother to tell her to be ready by six and flung open my closet door to survey what I might wear.

Renee, for certain, would be resplendent in satin gown, puddling about her delicate feet. I would wear what happened to be clean and was purchased during this decade: a black sweater and flowing trousers with matching pumps.

Pure bliss it was to be handed into the box by an attending usher. A few polite smiles to those seated near were all there was time for as the house lights began to dim.

Settling happily into my seat, the recital began and was everything one could dream of and more: Opening pieces by Handel, a sprinkling of American traditionals flowing seamlessly into Strauss and Puccini. Renee&squo;s milky shoulders rounded above her pale pink evening gown while

I was quite certain I felt a couple of shavings that had managed to work their way between my heel and shoe as I had picked a few last minute droppings from the stalls before leaping into the car earlier. It was, however, great fun to play Cinderella for the evening and sit among the cultured and well-heeled, feeling like the Queen Mum in the Royal Box.

Returning home and undressing, I realized as I hung up my fashionable charcoal trousers, that I had worn something the Queen Mum could have only imagined: I had spent the entire evening with snowy white terrier hairs clinging firmly to my butt.

Hymn to the moon, indeed.