A dear friend who lives overseas emailed me the other day, subject line: IMPORTANT DECISION! I couldn’t have clicked open that email any faster.
In 2013, I was lucky enough to go to the swim, on the job performing in-person “research” for a story that appeared in Horse Illustrated magazine in July 2014. I loved every minute of the days I spent on the island, especially the hours on the pier. I sat on the Chincoteague side of the channel, watching the salty tide ripple and sneak as I waited for the pony swim. (I blogged about it here.)
Crowds filled the marsh that day — bobbing on kayaks and rafts, other standing or sitting in lawn chairs half-submerged in the channel water. Others avoided the sun in make-shift hammocks under the piers. Boats anchored in the channel formed a lane where the ponies would swim across.
At about 11:30 a.m., just as the Saltwater Cowboys signaled with red smoke that the ponies had been driven into the water, black clouds crowded the sky. Cold rain followed – an unusual weather pattern for the swim.
The ponies swam fast, their heads barely above the high tide waters for the 5-minute swim across the churning gray water. Then storm moved out as fast as it had come in. By the time the ponies were clip-clopping and cavorting down Main Street in the parade to the carnival grounds, the sun was shining again. It was a magical time, and I can’t wait experience it again.
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