Her hooves pounded against the snow-covered path weaving in between the start woods of winter.

The wind rushing through my dark hair, with a tint of snow brushing onto my face. As I ran deeper into the woods of ice the idea of the cold snow storms ahead became more and more apparent. I decided to head back to the barn, as Queen’s pace was starting to slow.

As I emerged from the barn, the woods became more open, and the neighing of the horses neared. I could hear Spencer, our little white Pony whinnying loudly as I drew near. “Snow storms coming” she seemed to suggest to me. Hercules, our laziest horse was pacing back and forth. Her pacing meant something. She meant business.

I hauled all tack off her back and put it in its place, then led her into her stable. After that I feed her freshly picked carrots from the farm. I knew she’d need a good dinner.
An hour later, the snow storm hit. It was a big one. Out of my wide window I saw wooden planks flying off nearby houses. I felt so bad, and yet motivated to help. But I was helpless. I heard horses neighing.

The hail in, horses out.

I was quite sure not all of them had escaped from the barn. I thought of Queen. The second thing I heard was a big bang. I ran toward the stair well and slid down the oak railing. Peering out one of the front windows I saw the barn door had been burst open by wind and hail. I know Hercules and Spencer would have stayed. Queen was brave and would face the storm, so she ran with a couple of other horses. She’ll be impossible to find during the snow storm, with her white fur.

Then the rain pelted down. There was no way I could get out. Just as my horse did, I felt my feet sinking into the snow with every footstep. The wind was wailing, and rushed past my face. I ran head first into the forest, following the trail of hoof prints.

I realised that the wind was too wild. I needed a better way of transport. So I ran towards the barn, where Annika was just tacking up Hercules.

“Are you going to find Pepper?” I asked Annika.
“Yeah, I’m just so worried about her, little nut. She should have never run off, but I understand why and I do love her”, she replied.
“I do understand as well, and I feel exactly as you about Queen. But let’s stop standing around and find our horses, before it’s too late!”
“You’re right, let’s go!”
I tacked up Spencer, and we galloped out.

We raced off through the raging winds and reached the edge of the forest. Following my small footsteps once again, and then once they had died down, following the many hoof prints, some of which were Queens. As we rode on, the snow started to cover up their tracks. And we were in the midst of nowhere.

It grew colder and colder. Our thick coats soon became not enough. Until we heard the silent neighing of the pack of horses. We rode towards the sound. Then we saw them. Sheltering under a huge oak tree with thick branches and thickly gathered leaves, the horses waited together. This was one of the only trees with leaves. I could see Queen in the midst of them all. I jumped off Spencer and ran to her. Standing beside her again I stroked her thick winter coat once again.

“Let’s go home”, I said. I rode Queen back to the barn, and gave warning that the horses are out there and need help, urgently.
“We need to lead them back home”.

I rode back through the snow, to collect the rest of the horses and it was hard work. They were distressed from the storm. They were shaking their head to and fro, not willing to go back through the remaining icy winds. This windy snow giant.

Once we had led them all back to the barn they calmed. Although the barn entrance was quite the wreck, we put the horses in the stalls lower downstairs with the indoor heating device. I headed back to my cottage, where I slipped back into bed, with a warm hot chocolate by my side.

The next day, in the morning sunlight the remaining pieces of debris were lying around in the snow. My boots were sinking deeper down as I walked with the fresh layer of snow. I walked further towards the barn and saw some builders repairing the large barn door. I walked carefully past and ran towards Queen, hugging her and giving her a special treat of a bunch of ripe grapes. Which she happily munched up, the purple juice smearing her face. I laughed. Maybe be a bit more careful when you eat them next time, I said as I wiped the juice off her nose.

“Silly Goose”, I said. “How about we go for a winter ride, to freshen up?”
She whinnied back to me, as a yes.

I tacked her up, and we set out. Through the woods like yesterday, wind through my hair, wind through her mane. It was the feeling of freedom. But then something quite peculiar happened. A dark figure emerged from the thickly close part of the woods.

“Uh, hello?” I asked. “Who’s there, come out of the dark!”
The figure became closer, revealing a face, still mostly over shadowed face.
“Who are you?”
The body stepped back. As if cautious of the founding of eyes laid upon. Come out, come all the way out.
Then, a surprisingly high voice spoke. “Why should I?”
“So, so I can know who you are.”
“Why’s this?”
“Well, if you were riding through the woods in early morning and just happened to come across a small figure covered in shadows, wouldn’t you be the slightest bit curious?”
“Fair point”, the voice admitted.
“So, if you’re not afraid to talk so generally, then why not reveal your face?”
“Personal reasons.”
“I’m not afraid of a quirky face, at all.” “That’s what they all say.”
“Just come out, I’m just going to stay here until you do.”

Finally, the figure of a girl stepped forward, revealing a pale face, crystal clear eyes, and dark flowing hair. She stumbled slightly, getting closer to me and Queen.
“Say something?!” she said.
“Uh, Hello?”

She turned toward me, as if relying on the sense of sound.

“Say something else”, she repeated.
“I’m right here, I don’t need to talk for you to come closer.”
Suddenly her face looked up, instantly looking straight at me.
“Or do I?”, she said.

“What do you mean, I’m quite afraid you not making any sense at all!”
“I’m blind I would have thought you had realised that by now, is not hard to tell”, she said bluntly.
“Oh. Now I just feel dumb.”
“Yes so would I if I was in your situation, but I’m not, I’m in my situation and I’m afraid it has nothing to do with yours.”
“OK… um start again?”
“I’m saying that my life situation now is a lot worse than yours, in a nutshell.”
“Well not necessarily, we both have very different life styles, so it would be impossible to compare them equally.”
“Keep talking, scientist.”
“So why are you here anyway?”
“Why does it matter?”
“Just tell me things I want to know, and don’t tell me the things I don’t want to know”.
“I was out strolling in the woods with my guard dog Spartan that evening that the snow storm hit. But as soon as that wretched storm hit, he just back stabbed me and skittishly ran home.”
“Well, if I was a dog walking head first into a windy snow storm I would do exactly the same.”
“Yes, yes, keep talking”.
“So, I was stranded in the middle of the woods, blind as a newborn gosling and in the middle of a raging snow storm.”
“Right, now I understand.”
“And so, the eastern winds were so wild I just decided I would let my body fly with them.”
“You flew here?”
“Of course not. I just walked and the winds gave me a boost.”
“OK. So how do you suppose you get back?”

“I’m not.”
“Why not?”
“Strong winds don’t take you here for no reason. I heard something crash. What was it?”
“The barn door. You have acute hearing.”
“Thank you”.

The barn door got hit so the horses could fly free. Some are probably still out there, you just haven’t realised it. And your horse is here and came back because of your intensive care and unconditional love for her”.

“I got pulled by the wind here. Perhaps this is why all this happened, maybe it isn’t a complete accident.”
“Well what about me?”
“The woods pulled you here. This is where you shall be for life. If you try to escape, move away. It will always be one step ahead of you.”
“This is a fairytale story, why could I believe it?”

“It’s called Mother Nature in a nutshell. That’s why you should believe it. Because nothing happens for no reason. I didn’t get pulled here for no reason. The barn door didn’t break because of the hail, it broke for the horses to break free. And the woods were here for a natural wonder, that draws people like you down deeper, deeper and deeper every day. There’s no denying it.”

Mother nature makes things, and natural wonders for a reason, this is why we humans are drawn so easily to them. So, respect and preserve them while you can.

The End.