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Thank you for saving Popiołek!
Popiołek is already with us – safe and much calmer. He is no longer looking fearfully but curiously about a new place. Perhaps he is wondering: is this my new home?
Yes, Popiołek! You are at home. A real one that will be yours forever!
However, before he joins the remaining ponies, he must go into quarantine, during which a veterinarian and a blacksmith will see him.
We thank you with all our hearts on behalf of Popiołek!
Can You feel the smell of late fall in the air? The wind blows outside the window, and the bare trees ineptly block out the setting sun. The streets sparkle with ruthless rain, the last piles of dry leaves burning everywhere smell like light frost and nostalgia. You feel the smell of winter and it is getting closer and closer. I shut the window, it’s getting too cold. Although the smell of autumn is intoxicating. We’ve been going for a few hours, we’ve only stopped for a coffee for a moment, so as not to fall asleep. We’re going to Popiołek. Because Popiołek lives at the edge of the world.
We park next to new houses, in a small village in eastern Poland. From here you have to go on foot, too much mud today. We pass beautiful, fog-shrouded terraced houses with dark, sleepy gardens. Behind them is a bit of a field, and at its feet looms an old farm, as forgotten as the barns in it. The cold, gusty wind sometimes plays with the last leaves between our shoes. We are welcomed by an elderly farmer in rubber boots. He doesn’t smile when he sees us. He kicks the door to a small barn.
It is dark all around, the stench of manure, cobwebs stretched in the corners. Popiołek timidly and uncertainly looks at us from the very end of the dark corridor. He doesn’t know whether to step back and cuddle against the wall or run away. I hold out my hand. His eyes widen. When I stroke the tiny nose of a suspicious and fidgeting Popiołek, the November sun is almost touching the west horizon. I can see it through the ajar door of the barn as the last rays sweep the cold, wet pavement with tufts of yellow grass. Popiołek stands tied short, and his world is a square meter.. Our pony doesn’t reach to the window, he was born too short. So he couldn’t see that autumn concert in the yard anyway. He walks away from me and stretches his neck as much as he can and fiddles with little hooves, but whatever he does, he can’t see anything except the brick wall. And this wall is falling apart day by day.
Popiołek spent his life here. In the same barn, in the same village. The older man says he always wanted a horse. Such a family tradition as well as a local one. And everybody takes such a horse here sometimes for others to admire. In the yard, in the field. The host says that he did not have much money, he bought an older mare at the market. He called her Popiołka. Soon after, Popiołek was born. Nobody wanted a two here, nobody expected that the mare will give birth to a foal. There was supposed to be only one pony. So, the elderly gentleman took his disobedient mother, Popiołka, to the market, exactly where he had bought her earlier.
“Who bought it?” I asked.
“I am not going to lie to You, they loaded her onto the truck. What to do with an old pony, nobody wants one. It was barely going. I had to help it with a kick. I didn’t want her myself. They gave me 1000 zlotys, I took it, so I could get back home quickly, it was cold “
And so, a year ago, brave Popiołek was left alone when his mother was slaughtered because she was too old, because she took up too much space. He was left here alone with his rope, alone in his barn, alone in his square meter, with the world out of his sight. All autumn days he stared at the wall and listened to the omnipresent silence. Because there is no lack of silence here. And you drown in the dark every evening. So he was drowning.
Everything would be the same, silence, darkness and a window two meters above the ground into which a pony climbs. But holidays are coming. The elderly gentleman says that he does not have the strength to deal with Popiołek, he also sold a small piece of ground where the pony stood tied on a chain for days on end. The only “luxury” that Popiołek was entitled to, he therefore fell away. “I will give you a chain for free, Lady. You will tie it somewhere on the lawn, it will sit day and night. He will die sooner than run away. ” Money is needed for the holidays where the family is coming. And the money is in the barn. And money looks with those big dark eyes in which all hope is fading away.
Popiołek peeks at the lens. He comes closer and closer, finally holds out his little nostrils again at me. He got used to my company. I slowly give him a piece of carrot so as not to scare him. But he plays with it for a while, then spits out, bows his little head down and humbly returns to his place. Well, little ponies of this world like Popiołek do not know such miracles as carrots. Nobody buys it for them.
I take a few photos of him quickly, because the light in the barn is very weak, and in a moment everything will be flooded with darkness.
We go back the same path. At the end we pass the same foggy white houses and their sleepy gardens. When we come here again, it will probably be frost already. And if we don’t come, the same frost will lead Popiołek up a steep ladder, then take him along winding roads among the same mists and dreamy gardens. And this frost will accompany him to the very gate of the place from which Popiołek will never come back. They will say goodbye there, little Popiolek and the November frost. And everyone will reach for their destiny. Then, for a moment, Popiołek would probably be very, very cold. But it’s only a moment. Such a moment that passes into eternity. But maybe where such little ponies go there is no longer frost, darkness and this overwhelming silence?