Saturday, August 20, 2011
Adapting the RItual
I have a new partner in my morning routine. Stella is now waking up at 6 am, having slept through the night in her crate like a good little puppy. I actually get up first at 5:30, sneak stealthly downstairs , avoiding the step that squeaks, since Stella sleeps in my daughter’s room. After some quality snuggle time with Velcro, who is still playing the role of the disgruntled cat, I make coffee and go back to wake up the pup.
First, we tumble down the stairs and out the front door to take care of business. I don’t use the back door because it will alert Siete and Silk. They will both dig holes to China in their stalls if they have to wait too long for breakfast, so sshh! don’t tell them . Then, back in the kitchen, I feed both Stella and Velcro and pound down some coffee. Fortified, we’re ready to greet the horses, which I regard as the official start of every day.
At first, Stella was afraid of the tack room and the garage door that growls as it opens to reveal all those bales of hay stored there. I really didn’t want to make this feeding ritual turn into a frantic battle of wills, so I tied her leash to one of the cross-ties. This seems to be a satisfying grounding post for both of us. Siete and Silk stick their heads out of their stalls and begin talking to me from across the yard. I can answer them, fill the feed buckets and grab a couple of flakes of hay without a whirling dervish of puppy tangling the leash around my legs. Stella finds the “stick of the day”, usually the largest branch she can fit in her mouth, and settles down to gnaw on it.
When I’ve got all the essentials together, we cross the yard to the barn. Stella proudly marches with her oversized prize in tow, leaving me to carry the buckets and hay. I tie her to the pasture gate while Silk complains that I’ve got that crazy black creature with me again and that I need to hurry up because can’t I see that there are horses that are starving here? Stella sits like a puppy poster child observing everything I do as I feed horses and fill water buckets and open stall doors. When I’m done and it’s time to go back to the house, Stella carefully places her prized stick through the metal pipes just on the other side of the gate inside the pasture like an offering. Siete wanders out and sniffs it but chooses the hay that I’ve left next to the water bucket.
Recently, I realized that I had stopped taking the extra moment to appreciate the angle of the sun rising over the trees and the sounds of horses munching hay and the Canadian geese honking as they fly by over our heads. So, this morning, I made Stella wait a few more minutes while we just soaked up the glories of the beginning of a late summer day.