As one year passes and a new one comes along, we realize we are all getting that little bit older.

Some of us are now so old we have lost count of the number of times we have welcomed in the New Year. I am turning twenty-three years old. Tuxedo Junction, the oldest of the Meadow horses, is turning thirty-six years old, Painter and Breezy McCue are turning twenty-seven, Pippy, the white pony, is turning twenty, Mimi la Boom is turning eight and Monty Malone is just turning three.

Kipper and Snoopy, the oldest of the Meadow dogs, are also getting very old. They are turning fourteen this year, which is very old for a dog.

Some of the Meadow Folk are also getting on in years and no longer trot around the Meadow as quickly as they used to.

Little Oscar, who is not yet one year old, wants to know what “growing older” means.

I tell him,  “ Look around the Meadow, little Oscar, and see what you can learn about growing old.  You are a very clever little pup and have very sharp eyes! I am sure you will find all the answers you need!”

Little Oscar spent the whole day looking and learning. The first thing he noticed was I had a lot of white hair growing on my face!

He discovered that Tuxedo Junction liked to spend a lot of time lying on the grass and that Snoopy liked to rest all day in the deck chair. He saw that Snoopy found it hard to get out of his chair and jump down onto the verandah.

He noticed that Painter didn’t have many teeth left and took a very long time to chew his hay. He saw that Painter liked to stand by the water trough and dream the day away! He noticed that PIppy, the white pony, loved to spend time  remembering all the things that have happened in her life!

He noticed how Snoopy had sore hips and sometimes needed special help to get around. He saw that Grandfather walked very slowly indeed and needed to ride his noisy green machine to cross from one side of the Meadow to the other. He also noticed that grandfather took a very, very  long  time to reach down and pat him.

He realised how the old dogs, old horses and old Meadow folk knew such a lot about the world and how the young ones wanted to learn from them. He saw that the young liked to follow the old.

At the end of the day Oscar said he thought he understood what  “growing old” meant.

“What do you think it means, little Oscar?” I asked.

Oscar looked up at me with his bright little eyes and said, “Growing old is the opposite of me. I have no white hairs. I have sharp teeth and eat my food quickly. I can run quickly and easily leap out of chairs.  I don’t hurt anywhere in my body and don’t need help to travel across the Meadow. I don’t have much to remember and don’t spend time dreaming and sleeping.  No one wants to follow me and I know almost nothing about the world!”

I think that Oscar is a very clever pup and has learnt a lot today.

Do you know what “growing old” means?

Ryan O’Brien