I woke up at 2 am on Wednesday night to a fierce wind howling and the sound of cracking wood. There were three loud pops, and I knew that trees or branches were falling near the barn. I leaped out of bed and ran to the window, but it was pitch black out there. For the next two hours, I fidgeted in my bed, trying to talk myself out of going outside to see if the horses were safe. Then, at 4 am, the wind started wailing, and the windows of the house began shaking like they did during Hurricane Sandy. My daughter rushed into my room, and we agreed that it would be best to go down to the living room. There are several huge trees that could hit the house if they came down, and I was seriously considering taking child, dog and cat to the basement. My husband was out of town, as he often seems to be for these major weather dramas. Sometimes I think that Mother Nature consults his travel schedule before she decides to stir things up.
For the next two and a half hours, my daughter kept talking me out of going outside to see if the horses were okay. If she hadn’t been here, I probably would have been crazy enough to try to check on them. As soon as the sky began to lighten, I rushed to the windows to see what happened out back. There was a big tree down behind the pasture and several really large branches in the pasture, but the barn was fine. This morning, as I stood with Silk while she ate her breakfast and looked at the debris still scattered across our property, I felt such strong attachment to each of the magnificent trees that I live with every day.
I realized that I can distinctly remember the trees in each of the yards that I lived in since I was a child. There were the elm and pear and crabapple trees I climbed in Illinois, and I can recall almost every detail of the landscape where I grew up. Then, there were the grapefruit and fig trees that delighted me in Los Angeles. And the five avocado trees I loved in San Diego. We lived in an old avocado grove, and it was heaven to reach out and pluck them off the twisted branches and throw them in a salad. And the huge whispering pines in Virginia that soothed me to sleep at night. There was a time, for sixteen years while I lived in New York City, where I lost contact with nature. I did walk in Central Park often as a way of calming down and centering myself, but my attention was focused on my career and seeing the world and riding on the edge of what was next.
There’s no doubt that Silk brought back a big piece of me that had been missing when I was lucky enough to find her sixteen years ago. By the time we left North County in San Diego, there were big ugly MacMansions planted on the crest above the ranch -- but in the beginning, I could ride her up the hill, past the eucalyptus tree where the red-tailed hawk had a nest of babies, and stare out at the Pacific Ocean. Standing with my horse this morning, while she munched on her breakfast, I was reminded of all the beautiful views that I’ve seen thanks to the trails we’ve gone down together. I’m so lucky that she came into my life.