Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Eternal Optimism

Yesterday must have been a bad dream. On Sunday, I was out in the yard wearing a t-shirt, loving the budding of Spring. By 10 am, the very next day, the ground was covered with yet another depressingly white blanket, and all signs of green were gone. Miraculously, this morning, as I opened the back door to go out and feed the horses, there wasn’t a hint of winter. All the snow disappeared overnight, as if I had imagined it. Only I didn’t, and here are the pictures to prove it.

The horses didn’t enjoy the interruption of the rites of Spring either. Silk stayed in her stall all day, giving me that sad-eyed look, resigned to her fate. Her daughter was just plain grumpy. Siete would take a quick turn around the pasture every few hours with her tail flagged up high, snorting like a dragon. She’s as done with mud and snow as I am. Each time I watched her prancing and tossing her head, I thought that’s exactly how I feel.

On top of the bad weather, I threw out my back last week. It was definitely my body’s way of telling me to stop stressing and cleaning up after all the flooding. So, I’ve been forced to slow down and take a few days to contemplate my life. It appears to me that the state of my small piece of land is a mirror for how I am feeling. We’ve both survived a rough patch. The barn is splattered with mud and needs a thorough cleaning. So do I, and a diet and a new haircut are mandatory. The corral must be dug out and new footing needs to be brought in and properly graded. I’m personally digging into my business persona and refreshing my presentation and goals. After hibernating for all these months, I’m ready to emerge like Persephone and start to open up in new and exciting ways.

Today, it’s horsey spa day. The girls are going to get cleaned up with the shedding blade. I’ll put all the fur from their winter coats out behind the barn for the mama birds to use to build their nests. With warm water from the hose, those white socks on both horses’ feet will be revived for at least a few minutes before they run through the mud and blacken them again. The chorus of bad weather predictors are chanting that we’re getting more snow tomorrow night. Still, seeing the sun shining right now and listening to the birds chirp, I’m reassured that these last little hiccups of winter will soon be over.

Just like the little green sprouts didn’t freeze and wilt under that unexpected onslaught of snow yesterday, I’m not going to let the obstacles that fall in my path keep me from coming into flower. Years ago, a friend gave me a lovely old French ceramic tile that says “joie de vivre”. It sits on our mantelpiece and as I noticed it this morning, hobbling down the stairs with my sore back, I decided that it will be my new mantra.

Friday, March 11, 2011

In These Dark Days

Once again, my days and nights are occupied battling against the elements of Nature. We had torrential rain on Sunday and Monday that flooded my hay storage and Siete’s stall, among other places in our house and garage. I am tired of blogging about the weather, but it is my constant nemesis these last three months. Last night and this morning, we’re getting a few more inches of rain and everything that flooded earlier in the week is flooding again.

The horses have been taking it very well. Siete spent one night sharing a stall with her mother before I was able to dump enough wood pellets into hers to soak up most of the water. It still bubbles up when she steps in the front, but there’s a dry area in the back where she can stand. After a night with mom, she opted for coming back to her own space. Last night, I listened to the wind and rain fiercely pounding and I feared for the worst this morning. Miraculously, she’s still got this dry spot where I can feed her and she can keep her feet from getting wet, but now I have to figure out how to get her out and into Silk’s stall again. The front corral is a lake and it is continuing to pour down. It continues to challenge my coping skills.

Each time I’ve come back into the house to take a break over the last few days, I’ve been presented with unexpected examples of a disturbing topic. First, my daughter came home from high school eager to talk to me about the problem of dating violence. She isn’t involved, thank heavens, in this horrible situation, but apparently some young women in her school are. They have had the courage to come forward to talk about it, and my daughter applauded their bravery. Then, I received an email from a friend with a news story about an 11-year old girl in Texas who was gang raped by 18 young men, including high school star athletes. Yesterday, another friend sent me a link to a presentation at one of the TEDx conferences by Chameli Ardagh called “The Fierce Face of the Feminine”. It’s a very compelling argument about how women must use their power to protect the children of the world. She points out that each day all over the world, there are more and more children whose lives are in danger and who are afraid to go to sleep at night.

As you know, I try to stay away from discussing politics and events of upheaval in the world. You also probably have noticed, through the years of owning Silk and Siete, I have come to appreciate the temperament and characteristics of my mares and other female creatures and learned a lot about the power of the feminine. And coincidentally, Wednesday was International Women's Day. So, I feel a strong need this week, as Mother Nature continues to rage around me, to urge women to take hold of their power and teach their daughters how to use it to make the world a safer place for our children. It might appear that as mere individuals, we are not able to stop the horrors of acts of violence and war. Yet every day, in how we relate to what goes on right here around us, there are opportunities for every woman to find her own power and take a stand against what we know in our hearts is not good for us or our children. From one drop of consciousness and action, there can be an enormous ripple.

Here’s the link to Chameli Ardagh’s talk: “The Fierce Face of the Feminine”

Saturday, March 5, 2011

The White Blanket

The white blanket on our pasture is getting lower to the ground, but there’s still a lot of ice and snow before you hit grass. At the worst, it was actually almost reaching the top rail of the fence but slowly it’s melting, inch by inch.

I was gone for about five hours yesterday, visiting my mom and going to the grocery store. My husband was supposed to throw a couple of flakes of hay to the horses, but he got busy and forgot. So, when I came home, Silk was standing at the gate of the corral watching anxiously for my arrival. I didn’t see Siete until I walked up to Silk with some hay. There was my little horse, standing at the far corner of the pasture, four hooves on top of the snow like an ornament on a birthday cake. I called her to come get some hay. She was still as a statue.

I realized, oh my god, she's stuck, so I headed inside to put on my boots. My husband beat me to it, feeling guilty that he forgot to feed the girls. He grabbed a halter and lead rope and ventured out to rescue Siete. Each step, he sunk into the snow almost to his knees. When he reached Siete, she started shaking her head wildly. He petted her and whispered something in her ear. Did I mention that Siete is his girlfriend? She let him put on the halter and lead rope without any fuss.

I stood at the gate, worried that she would drag him but she wasn’t going to budge. Finally, he calmly and gently coaxed her to follow him. She took two steps on top of the ice and then, whoosh! Siete’s feet dropped into a soft spot in the snow, and she sank about a foot. After that, she was afraid to lift her leg again. I don’t know how he convinced her to try, but step by step, my husband patiently dragged the horse at a snail's pace across the white blanket. At the edge, where the snow ended and the small “runway” was cleared except for ice and mud, Siete started leaning on him like she couldn’t bear to take another step.

I was afraid she was going to explode as soon as she hit terra firma, but she waited until he unclipped the lead rope and stepped out of the way. Then, she took off running into the barn. Safe in her stall, Siete bucked and bucked and bucked and bucked. Then, she whinnied very loud at us. It was quite clear what she had to say about the whole experience.

I offered her a carrot to calm her rattled nerves, and I served dinner early to the girls. This morning, when I opened the stall door, Siete poked her head out and tossed her nose in the direction of the white blanket. I reminded her that there was nothing but trouble out there for her. She’s a smart little horse, so she stood at the edge of the snow for a long time today without lifting a hoof in that direction.

Soon, little darling, soon. Spring is right around the corner.