Saturday, January 24, 2009

In the Still of the Night


This cold, rough winter has added into my already full schedule an extra, after-dinner trip to the barn. It’s been a testimony to how much I love my horses that I once again bundle up and leave my warm, comfy house to give Silk and Siete some more hay and check to see if they need water in these single digit frozen nights.

After complaining about the new routine for a few weeks, I slowly began to appreciate being out at the barn in the cold and darkness. The sky always provides me with a new show, whether it’s studded with stars or dramatically revealing the moon behind white snow clouds. The horses begin murmuring their approval as soon as they see me walk out the backdoor and head down the path. It makes me so glad that I climbed into my boots and coat and scarves and hat one more time so that they will have hay to warm their bellies overnight. The heated water buckets are usually half-empty, making me thankful that the horses are drinking enough and that I had the good sense to come out and fill them again so there will be enough water to last until morning.

The best part about going out to the barn in the still of the night is the great blanket of silence. After everyone is taken care of and I’ve turned off the lights, I stand for a moment to just be there with my horses and listen to nothing. This moment gets harder and harder to walk away from since it feels so satisfying and right, but the glow of the lights in my house reassures me that everything is safe and good all over this place. The cold intensifies the sound of my feet crunching in the snow, and I can still hear the horses munching their hay almost all the way to my backdoor. I say a little walking prayer, thank (step) you (step), thank(step) you(step).

Last night, the temperature warmed up into the 30’s, so I decided not to go to the barn. I really missed it. As I crawled into bed, I thought about how what first appears to be change due to adversity might actually be a lesson in flexibility and appreciation. I stopped to consider all the other ways that the belt-tightening and variations of old routines are leading us to a more meaningful and balanced way of living. It’s still going to be a cold shock to step outside and head for the barn when the temperatures drop back down tonight, but there’s a new understanding about why I need to do it that helps me make peace with it.

21 comments:

deejbrown said...

It's amazing how new routines that are initially onerous become blessings in disguise. I love your walking prayer; I think I will adopt it too.

detroit dog said...

Interesting how those little things that at first seem like chores instill in us an appreciation for the subtleties of routine and ritual, and make us aware that while we were doing something we hoped was appreciated by others (in this case, the horses), they really gave us a gift in return.

I suspect your girls like being tucked in at night, and you enjoy a few extra moments for reflection and the stillness of the night.

Unbelievable amount of snow and freezing temps this winter.

Carolynn said...

Beautiful, thoughtful post. One of the things I love about the shift I work at the barn is that it's the last one of the day and I'm there alone with all the horses for a good portion of it. The peace is tangible and there is little that can compare to it.

Change...that double edged sword.

Spartacus Jones said...

Well said.

Late night.
Alone with the horses.
Sacred time.

sj

Lori Skoog said...

Victoria....my sentiments exactly. Don't you love the lights on in the barn when it is dark outside? Anyone who reads your blog will be very moved by this post. It's win win...

Yesterday it was in the 30s here and this morning it was back to the ice age. I am so glad the sun is out.

smrp said...

Oh what lucky girls you have! Nothing like a surprise third feeding to make for happy and grateful ponies! And they get hours of cozy bellied warmth from that additional visit...I'll bet you sleep so well just thinking of their joyous and peaceful munching :)

Lovely lovely post...made me all warm and fuzzy inside :)

Woofs and whinnies from all of us,
Sue and the crew

Meandering with Marilyn said...

Oh, so well said. I have complained about this cold, snowy winter, but yet realize there is something awesome about nature. Thanks for sharing with us.

Glenda

John and Regina Zdravich said...

Absolutely!!! You hit the nail right on the head with this post....it is so true that these things, though seemingly distasteful chores, are actually so enjoyable for the spirit and the heart. This post echoed my feelings precisely.

Rising Rainbow said...

It's been a tough winter for many of us, that's for sure. There is something about the cold crunching of snow under one's feet that is enjoyable.......even though the cold seems like a plague. Funny how life can be full of such dichotomies.

Callie said...

As cold as it gets, I enjoy it too, or I might enjoy it more if I didn't have rambunkish dogs chasing each other through the snow and barking at the horses and taking nearly 30 minutes to settle down enough to actually do their "doody". LOL

billie said...

It's good to hear you're embracing the cold nights and making them special!

I have said so many times to so many people that each time I walk out to the barn, all troubles seem to melt away. Even physical issues disappear while I'm with the horses. I've discovered it works with the adolescent son, too. When he's feeling surly, I ask if he'll go do a horse check. He returns with a softer and kinder demeanor.

I don't think I'll ever stop being amazed at this effect horses have on us.

Pony Girl said...

Nicely written Victoria. When you are you going to write a book? ;)

I think snow in general really has that blanketing, peaceful, quiet effect about it. We don't get it here often, but when we had it for nearly two weeks around the holidays, I got used to it. Now, shockingly, I am craving the snow and feelings it brings again, even though it can be cold and difficult.

Grey Horse Matters said...

There really is something so peaceful about a winter's night with the stars shining,the barn lights glowing softly throwing faint shadows on the snow drifts.

You're girls are lucky to have a mom willing to bundle up and brave the cold just to make sure they are well taken care of. I like your new prayer too. It makes the cold not seem so bad when you can be thankful for what you have.

Janet Roper said...

Hi Victoria,
Blessings in disguise, treasures beneath the snakes....the world is filled with such treasures!
Harmony,
Janet

CadencedHoofbeats said...

What a nice post! I just got in from night check on my farm, and I also love tucking the horses in at night. I check water (and break ice in these temperatures!), and I also throw plenty of hay for the night. It's hard to motivate myself to go out the door into the cold, but once I'm out there with the horses, it makes me happy. Good night to everybody and their horses!

AnnL said...

That's exactly what I love about bed-check for the horses. I do it all year round, but I enjoy the stillness much more in winter. It IS hard to get all bundled up and leave the warmth of the woodstove, but it makes me much more appreciative of the good night hug to Jeeves as I bury my face in his warm, hairy neck. So warm! What better way to end the day?

Rachel Friedman said...

I don't even know how in the universe of the internet I stumbled upon your blog but its evocative and resonates for me. I had a post on my own blog I I called Perfect Moments -- and you capture the spirit of that awareness in the simplest of things. Thanks!
http://abetterdogblog.blogspot.com/2009/01/perfect-moments.html

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

I enjoyed your ponderings and thoughts on how you life has been whittled down to a more simple and raw existance, keeping your life in a beautiful balance. Such joy in your writings, even knowing how bitterly cold it is there.

~Lisa

marymartha said...

There is something magical about standing in the still, dark night, surrounded by the smell of barn and horses that restores the soul.
I am glad you have those moments in your day.
Peace be with you.

LJB said...

I never regret those late night feedings... special times...

jme said...

lovely sentiments. i admit i dread night-check every night - leaving behind my comfy spot on the couch and my warm house, i trudge dutifully out into the cold... but then it is just as you say - the beautiful sky, the warm welcome in the barn, and suddenly i forget the inconvenience to myself and remember why i'm there in the first place. i think about what i'd be missing if i didn't have that nighttime trip to make and realize i wouldn't want to be anywhere else :-)