Saturday, December 29, 2007


deer well camouflaged

I am Anya's adopted father. The writer, Robert Sheckley, was Anya's genetic father. I am honoured to have been one of Bob's friends. English-language critics pigeon-holed Bob as a writer of science fiction. He was judged differently in Europe and in those countries that were part of the old USSR. He was read for his ideas and his wit and his take on the human condition and he was admired as a master craftsman of the short story.
Anya and I drove up to Woodstock yesterday to visit Bob's grave. Anya parked below the cemetery and a herd of deer broke out of the trees. Most bolted up across the graves. Two hesitated and looked back. They were at the corner of the hedge that demarks the artists' corner - the direction we were headed. I took their photograph. Then Anya and I walked up the track. Bob's grave was under snow. Anya and I will visit again when I finish my ride in the Spring. We will have Anya and Michael's baby son with us.


I am staying with my daughter, Anya, and her partner, Michael, at Michael's horse farm in Dutchess County. The horse farm is what we Brits call a stud. Michael breeds race horses. He has some 150 mares on the farm and five stallions. I have never been a horse enthusiast. Horses demand too much attention and they lack brains. What other animal sticks its legs in holes unless saddled with a steersman? Or eats food poisonous to them?
My brother is the horseman.
I was proud last year in Peru at riding my Honda at over 13 000 feet in altitude on a viciously bad road. I thought, Hey, what other man my age could cope? Yea, I'm really special.
That was the week that my brother won a Three Day Event. A Three Day Event is an equestrian competition in cross country jumping, jumping in the ring and dressage. Think extreme sports on horseback. Lunatic adrenalin addicts compete. My brother is 76. He IS special. I merely thought I was.