There’s joy in letting go

6 months ago

My friends, just picture this: champagne-colored hats decorated with red roses, pink carnations, sunflowers and golden taffeta ribbons. Fascinators boasting downy-soft feathers and tiny, dancing beads of green, gold, red, blue and additional hues that are too unique to name.

Soft, flowing trousers decorated with horses of bronze, black and gray. T-shirts that declared to be authentic; each announcing the reason for all of the pomp and circumstance: the 2023 Kentucky Derby.

Yes, my friends, I was at the Kentucky Derby in North Monmouth, Maine, with cheeks that ached from smiling and a glass of Asti Spumante in one hand and a mini charcuterie basket in the other.

With intense computation, we chose our horses to either win or show with no thought of winning or losing. As we nibbled on exotic dips and crackers, lobster and crab salad, supreme macaroni and cheese, chef’s potato salad, divine cheeses and other decadent dishes, we cared not whether we won or lost. Each wager was meager payment for the honor of being a part of the celebration.

This was the 149th Kentucky Derby, as well as the 50th anniversary of Secretariat’s win of not only the Kentucky Derby but also the Preakness and Belmont Stakes. This made Secretariat a triple crown winner. The jockey who rode Secretariat to victory was a gentleman by the name of Ron Turcotte, from the Grand Falls, New Brunswick, area.

In Grand Falls, there is a life-ize monument of Mr. Turcotte and Secretariat, racing toward a win that will forever be written in history.

This year’s race got underway at 7 p.m. right on the dot and the winner was Mage. Two Phils placed second, with Angel of Empire third. We all cheered for our favorites, urging them on to victory. Laughter and exclamations of delight surrounded me, chasing away the worries of the world and allowing only goodness to walk through the balloon arch that graced the entrance to the party.

The day ended with karoke, presented to all of us with a continuous chorus of unbridled giggles and squeals befitting adults who have mastered the art of having fun. My friends, I have discovered that the woes of the world do not stand a chance against the art of letting go, even if just for one day. There is no medication like a good old-fashioned belly laugh, or the taste of a luscious sweet, or the sound of chatter and music that burst from the walls and spill out into a milk chocolate, star-studded night.

Next year, I plan on wearing a flowing, pastel, lace-trimmed boho gown with a matching hat that has long, translucent ribbons and flowers all around its wide brim. I may put on white gloves and bejeweled sandals with diamond-like baubles that peek out from beneath the hem of my dress. I will research each horse, eventually deciding to bet according to name and color, refusing to pay attention to statistics. And I will dance when everyone is looking.

Please be kind to yourself and to each other, my friends. And please stay well and safe. With much love.

Belinda Hersey lives in Caribou with her husband, Kent, and their dog, Morgan. You may email her at