What it takes for me to write these days is 12 hours and counting of heavy rain. The absolute reticence to leave the tent until a break in the deluge propels a run to the log house. The puppy sprawling quietly after sharing breakfast with us, the goats curled warm in their doghouse. The newly dug garden too fresh, too delicate with all this rain to bother planting today. The horses profoundly grateful for the drowned bugs and the morning’s unharried grazing. My mother on the phone. The table finally clear of all the bits of our lives we’ve hauled over mountain passes to be here, in this wild and gentle place.
It’s been hard to slow down. The pace of life is different here but my mind churns rabidly as it checks off what is done and chides itself for what isn’t, my hands searching for something to do, the exhausting distraction of each task that pulls me away from finishing anything…
The horses completely ignored me for a week. Maybe the betrayal of the 20 hour trailer ride was fresh in their nerves or maybe the simple reality of all this room to roam took the the full of their attention for a while. And maybe still we were all glad to take a break from each other, where I can see they are fine and they can see I am fine and we can simply let each other carry on for a while. I didn’t even pick manure for that week. Blessed rest, with the nervous edge of duties shirked, and then the delicious autonomy of these small freedoms on its heels.
And still, when yesterday they finally called to me for the first time since we arrived, the delight I felt was palpable. When they still want my human presence despite having all their animal needs met. Watching them from the window, it’s taken all this time for me to truly believe I am seeing them from my own kitchen, doing as they please, that if I want to be with their sweet selves all I have to do is put on some shoes (or not) and wander outside. Some days they follow me a ways up the trails, grabbing mouthfuls along the way, trotting to catch up through the daisies and fireweed. They reach the edge of their comfort and wheel away, running and snorting back to the barn, and I watch til they round the bend, before continuing on my way.
When I first met my mare, over 10 years ago, she pulled me into a clumsy and passionate dance. Together we turned away from the bizarre but conventional world of riding lessons and schooling shows to the back and beyond of our own hearts and minds. We have been through several attempts at different horsemanship styles, the worlds of equine therapy, nutrition, hoof care, and I have failed her and pleased her at every turn. I think now that she might have orchestrated the larger points of my life since: the teachers I’ve sought, the jobs I’ve taken, the places we’ve lived, just trying to find this elusive thing, this horse-human thing that I still haven’t come close to achieving but that I have, at least, found peace in the gentle churn of pursuing. I still believe that we humans have made our worlds far too complicated. That I’ve done all I can to get to this place where they can walk and run, eat what they want, and drink clean water. Where I can, as well.
Now, after a decade spent getting here, I find myself entirely blank. I wonder what I’m needed for, what I need them for. And as I watch them with their ears pricked tall and curious in my direction, I know it will come in time. For now, we have to let the land heal each of us however it sees fit. Sitting in the discomfort of not knowing, thanking the rain for all that it brings.
Click here for Part 4 in this series.