Yesterday we brunched at the golf club with my niece Jennifer and her close friend and colleague Charlotte.

I had always recognized my niece’s affection for animals (including humans) in distress. She and her friend live on a farm in the country where they are among other things combining this natural affection with equine therapy.  My niece has ridden her own horse since she was a child.

Equine-assisted therapies are programs where professionals guide clients through activities with horses. There are different kinds of equine programs, and they have different goals for the people involved. Some programs are part of mental health treatment. In other cases, clients ride horses as part of a physical or occupational therapy regimen.

Below is a poem written by my niece about a tiny squirrel which they found nearby their digs. It speaks to the transcendental evolution of their collective experience.

June 6 2022

Artemis —squirrel medicine
by Jennifer Hladkowicz

A once opened heart walled off
Frightening in this realization as not recognizable to the self

Compartments of the mind storing toxic thoughts like rancid nuts
Severing the heart from the equation

A small frail body
Once held
Warmed the frozen resistance

And love and joy flowed back in
Almost instantly
Unlocking years of sorrow and fear

Showing what was there all along
Reigniting vision of what was once thought to be commonplace
Seeing has nothing to do with the eyes

The heart is the instrument of sight
Love is the key that unlocks doors previously thought closed
Through Gentleness not force

It is said they find only 10% of what they hide
But that is not nature’s oversight
For more trees grow for future abundance
They are wise

Tears forming rivers where you once cuddled
Only hours ago
Knowing the love you brought will stay

Even through your absence and mourning of
A life gone too soon
You increased the capacity of the heart beyond its original volume
To compensate for your loss

A short life carrying so many lessons
Resilience through adversity
Laughter and play
Planning and change
Unavoidable realities of life
Made better because of knowing a squirrel

We loved you