Sunday, August 23, 2009

Pick Those Feet

I have a confession to make. I hate to pick out my horses’ feet. It’s messy and my hands always get filthy and it’s how I threw my back out last week. So, it became a real test of self-discipline when I decided this summer that I will pick out their feet every morning and every evening. I want to do everything I can to insure that we don’t have any hoof abscesses after last summer’s drama. I’ve put shoes on their front feet now, which was a really good idea since it gives them more support. I think it takes the weight off their back feet. It also holds the muck in more than bare feet do.

To my surprise, the hoof picking has become a little spiritual practice for me and my girls. At first, Siete wasn’t thrilled about it. Some days, she tolerated it, but others, she pinned her ears - “Oh no, not again with the hoof pick!” And once, she even tried to nip my butt. I let her know right away that this is a reaction that would not be tolerated. Eventually, she started to realize that it feels better not to have all that muddy gunk stuck in her frogs. It amazes me how much gets packed in.

So, while I don’t really feel like doing it most nights, I am always glad that I did once I’ve finished. I sleep better knowing that my horses’ feet aren’t filled up with sticky, muddy goop when I close their stall doors and go to bed. There’s something honorable about sticking to the discipline and not letting it slide, even when my back was aching. Both of the girls welcome the last touch of attention that I give them each night. I find myself lingering to scratch an itchy spot or touch up the fly spray. It’s the four-legged equivalent of tucking my daughter into bed with a goodnight hug.

Monday, August 17, 2009

95 and Still Frisky!

Today has been a whirlwind around here. It’s my mom’s 95th birthday, and even though she insisted on keeping it low-key, we didn’t pay no mind to that silly notion. Neighbors came by with flowers and candy just after breakfast. I took Nana to get her hair cut in the afternoon. More flowers kept arriving. And for dinner, her favorite Chinese food and a fabulous cake from our local dairy that makes their own sinfully rich ice cream. Not to mention she got lots of presents.

I am fortunate to come from a long line of strong willed, outspoken women. At 95, some of the parts are wearing out, but my mother still thinks that she can do what she could do 50 years ago. In fact, she still does more than a lot of people half her age. Opinionated, frisky and fearless. That’s my mom, and we love her.

PS - I also had the pleasure of eating breakfast with one of my West Coast blogger friends, M.C. Valada from Out of the Darkroom. It’s always fun to meet my buddies face-to-face after all these years of sharing our lives in the blogosphere. A great way to start this busy day!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

The Benefits of Deep Listening

I had to go into New York City for a meeting yesterday. I followed my usual routine of greeting the horses and feeding them on a gorgeous summer day. Then, I took the train down to the city and arrived mid-morning. I walked down Park Avenue, took care of business and walked back to Grand Central Station.

The weather was perfect. New York City was enjoying summer in all its glory. I was grateful to live so close to one of my favorite places on earth. But I was even more grateful to get back on the train, leave the city and return to the country and my horses. I don’t think that I could find what I need to cope with all of life’s challenges living in an apartment with only Central Park as a green escape. For 16 years, it was more than enough. Now, it couldn’t begin to satisfy my soul.

What I appreciate so much about being able to just walk out my back door and be in nature is the ability to instantly find a way to go into a state of “deep listening”. I love this expression that I learned from a very wise woman named Sandra Ingerman. She writes a newsletter each month, and this is what she said in her most recent one:

“There is so much we must attend to in our spiritual evolution during such a time of great change. I am sure you can see that changes keep increasing and getting more dramatic. And it is so important to follow your inner wisdom and guidance right now. It is essential in order to thrive to watch omens, trust your deep inner feelings, keep listening to the inner messages you are getting.”

“Working with the elements in nature is a great way to move into what indigenous people call “deep listening”. Nature can move us into a trance state where our rational mind quiets down and we can listen to the deep guidance rising from within... Sitting in the breezes or winds of summer – just listening – allowing your ordinary thoughts to fly away and be replaced by your inner voice can provide guidance for you right now.”

The first thing I did when I got back from the city last night was to go to the barn and pick out the horses’ hooves. They were happy I was home, and so was I. It always is a marvel to me that I can be transported so quickly from one world to the other. The big news while I was gone was that a large coyote strolled by the barn in the middle of the afternoon and that my husband got poison ivy in his eye while he was clearing a bridle trail for me in the woods behind our property. Both events were cause for alarm, but they also reminded me of the differences in my existence between city dwelling and country living. As a refreshingly cool breeze blew through the window over my bed, I fell asleep with big plans for a weekend of “deep listening”.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Jewels of Summer

They’re here! The wild raspberries are ripe for picking. The jewels of summer are ready to be eaten. They only come in season for a couple of ridiculously short weeks each year. Raspberries and peaches are my favorite fruits. Lucky for me, we have six raspberry patches on our property. I cultivate them, while some of my neighbors foolishly call them “weeds”.

These raspberries taste nothing like the bland, wimpy ones that I occasionally resort to purchasing at the grocery store. They must be picked at exactly the right moment to get the ideal combination of tart and sweet. I monitor the patches twice a day to pluck the ripe berries before the birds get them. They have to be just the perfect shade of dark red. There’s something so satisfying about touching the cluster of raspberries and having the ones that are ready just drop into your hand. It’s almost a religious experience.

And what do I do with these divine delicacies? First, I fight off the family members who try to gobble them up while they are still in my hand or in the bowl. Then, I make raspberry pancakes, raspberry muffins. This year, I have a recipe for English raspberry pudding and a raspberry cake that I’m dying to try. And I will freeze a small container so that on my birthday, in November, I can have raspberry pancakes even though the bushes have lost their leaves and are packed in compost, preparing for next year’s bounty.

Wish you were here to share them with us!