Horseback riding and a new place for pho

I haven’t posted any pictures of the wee equestrienne lately, so here you go. Tacking up Chewy for a ride.

Walking Chewy in the ring before practice.

We have a long tradition of going out for pho on especially cold days. After a couple years in Florida, anything in the 60s now feels insufferably cold. It’s kind of difficult to believe I am the product of Finnish and Dutch immigrants.

When we moved here, there were not any Vietnamese places nearby. But this month, Tram’s Cafe opened. We are so excited to have a place walking distance away for pho. I also discovered that I really love Vietnamese coffee, which tastes a lot like Cuban coffee (and thus will probably be very popular here). The cultural fusion in Florida is always impressive. There’s nothing like sitting in a Vietnamese cafe and listening to Vietnamese, Latin, and American pop music in rotation.

I feel like I am the last person on the planet to discover bubble tea. Elise is absolutely in love with it. On the odd chance that any readers here are similarly uninitiated:

Bubble tea is a Taiwanese tea-based drink invented in Tainan and Taichung in the 1980s. Recipes contain tea of some kind, flavors of milk, and sugar (optional). Toppings, known as “pearls”, such as chewy tapioca balls (also known as pearls or boba), popping boba, fruit jelly, grass jelly, agar jelly, alovera jelly, sago and puddings are often added. Ice-blended versions are frozen and put into a blender, resulting in a slushy consistency. There are many varieties of the drink with a wide range of flavors. The two most popular varieties are black pearl milk tea and green pearl milk tea.

This will be a fun place to hang out with a book.

And the second eagle egg now has a pip. So we will have another eaglet in our neighborhood hopefully tomorrow morning. Happy days.

Some riding pictures

Elise has another horse show on Saturday, so she spent her riding lesson this week working with her trainer on what to expect. The weather has cooled down in Florida, which makes us want to spend all our time outside. Chewy is getting a winter coat already. Even he was happy with the weather.

Look at this equitation, for a seven-year-old!

Working on getting into the jumping position.

Elise is very strong for a little kid. Her trainer has her riding at a trot and posting without reins, and she has zero problem balancing on the horse. She doesn’t even get worried about falling. She was born to be on the back of a horse. I can’t wait to see how far she goes with riding.

Farm life, sporting life

One of my favorite parts of driving through the Florida countryside these days are the thousands of sand cranes hanging out in recently plowed fields. They follow the tractors as they harvest crops or turn over fresh soil, taking advantage of all the creatures the plow reveals. Somehow they have no fear of tractors, but with a single passing vehicle they all take flight. It’s mesmerizing.

While Elise was having her riding lesson today, I watched a rafter of wild turkeys wandering through the paddocks. They are very much at home on the horse farm, climbing one-by-one through the fences and pecking around in the dirt next to the thoroughbreds.

Elise is in love with the chickens, especially now that there are a bunch of adorable chicks bouncing around in the chicken coops. We signed her up for the equestrian program of 4H this year, so she’s now a little Cloverbud. Fortunately, the ag extension office is next door to her stables, so it’s all going to be familiar territory for her.

Elise has another horse show coming up at the end of October. She’s going to be competing in more advanced classes this go around, so that’s exciting.

Taking care of her pony, Chewy.

For those who enjoy hunting and horseback riding, Garden & Gun’s sporting issue is out now and they absolutely knocked it out of the park. There is a wonderful, detailed article on the historical roadblocks to preserving the wilderness in the Everglades and the great work Governor Ron DeSantis and his allies are doing to save the park, including their rebuke of Big Sugar lobbyists. There is a piece on Pat Conroy’s widow’s new memoir of their life together. There is a section on collecting shotguns and quail hunting in Old Florida. I devoured the whole thing. Oh, and they also have a lot of great game recipes to try, including duck, rabbit, and boar, all of which we have in considerable supply here in Florida.