Saturday, January 21, 2012

Winter At Last

It’s hard to believe that January is three-quarters over and we’re just getting the first real snow of the winter. It’s a soft, fluffy, gentle snow, and I have to admit that I enjoyed going out to the barn early this morning before the rest of the world was awake.

I was lucky to get a new Mountain Horse winter parka as a Christmas gift this year. It feels like I’m in a cave when I wear it with the hood up. It’s so cozy and waterproof that I am ready to venture out regardless of what Mother Nature throws down in my path.

Stella and Siete are snow bunnies. The puppy leaps into the air and tries to eat the snowflakes as they fly through the air. My little horse races around in the pasture, flinging snow and then running to catch it. I keep trying to photograph her, but she’s so fast that I just get a blur. Silk peers warily out of her stall door, forever the California Princess who hates to get her feet cold.

There’s no pressure on days like this. We don’t need to go anywhere or do anything. The fire is burning, and I just made some muffins and another pot of coffee. It’s a good day to be a couch potato.

I just received a note from an old friend, who sent this quote:

"If you let go a little
you will have a little happiness.
If you let go a lot you will have a lot of happiness.
If you let go completely you will be free."
Ajahn Chah

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Rivers of Stone

This is the time of year when trail riding and walking in the woods is the best, if you can bundle up enough against the cold. One of the things that I love about New England is the stonewalls that flow like mysterious veins through the woods here. The walls are so personal, each one with a story about the person who placed the stones in that particular, artistic way. There’s no doubt in my mind that this kind of masonry is art.

When I first moved here, I wondered why so many of the walls were lodged into the deepest woods. Then, I realized that this land was once cleared of trees, and the walls separated fields and property lines. There are still a few farms near our house, but over a hundred years ago, as the Industrial Revolution spread across the East Coast, most of the farms disappeared. I love the idea of the trees taking back the land, starting as little volunteers sheltered by the stonewalls. Now, I live at the edge of this deep, thick forest, watching the give and take between these towering trees and crumbling walls.

I am doing a video with an artist who draws her inspiration from nature, so I’ve been spending more time in the woods this week. I also watched a wonderful documentary about Andy Goldsworthy called “Rivers and Tides”. He talks about time being a great teacher. He says it is relentless, especially as he works in nature: “Time is coming up behind me.” He believes that we often misread the landscape when we just see it as “pretty” or “pastoral”, missing the dark side of it. The stones, to him, are the guardians, protecting something. Living in the same place for a long time allows you to see the progression and appreciate the river of growth that flows through the trees and the land.

One of my favorite things about Goldsworthy’s art is that he makes each work and “takes it to the edge of its collapse. That’s a beautiful balance.” The violent ice storm this October literally tore some of the biggest trees in half. Huge hairy limbs still dangle overhead, waiting for the wind to release them. It looks like the forest is having a bad hair day. Trails that had been carefully carved over time are now covered with wild, twisted branches and logs. Winter in our woods is the time of year to really appreciate the flow and energy between the living and the river of stone.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Time to Re-Balance

I watched Silk and Siete eat their breakfast this morning, and my mind was full of “I should have’s”. Mostly, my thoughts centered on my battle to keep the endless mud off of their legs and hooves. I washed their muddy paws yesterday, but I could see that I probably ought to have another go at make their socks white again today. Silk had little abscesses in three of her hooves earlier this week. I ran out of Animalintex so I didn’t poultice them last night, and I wondered if I should have. For most of the month of December, I was running a litany in my head of all the things that I didn’t get around to doing. Then, I got really sick.

There’s a flu/cold virus that is sweeping across our town, and after three years of being healthy, I caught it bad. For several weeks, I told myself that I could kick it without antibiotics, but I knew that my energy level just wasn’t strong enough. I finally gave and went to the doctor. The meds were so strong that they cured the sinus infection but really upset my stomach. I did what I had to do. After taking pills for ten days, I’m glad to report that I'm so much better that my whole outlook on life has brightened again.

At the same time, I knew that this was a powerful message for me to take the time as we move into 2012 to re-balance myself. I need more time being silent and alone with my horses. I have two goals, one small and one quite large, that haven’t been achieved yet. It is so easy to just tell myself that they don’t matter or that it’s too much work to make them happen. Recently, I’ve sort of put my dreams on hold and in doing that, temporarily lost the will to persevere. I’m not going to beat myself up over this. There was a detour this year where I went down a path that wasn’t working for me. I’m thankful that I had the strength and understanding to stop and turn around. As soon as I did, I was given a wonderful gift of a new video camera that has sent me off in a very challenging and exciting direction. So, as we enter the new year, and the antibiotics clear the fog from my brain, I’m receiving little sparks of inspiration and I’ve dusted off those dreams so I can get them back on their feet again.

I also vowed not to worry about my horses so much. This weather is so weird with temperatures as low as 6 degrees one night and then back up into the 50’s two days later. No wonder Silk got the abscesses. The ground went from muddy to frozen hard moon craters overnight. Rather than jump to dire conclusions about all the other things that could be wrong with my senior horse, I told myself that it was lucky to just be abscesses, which I know how to fix. I assured Silk that she would be running around again in no time.

Tonight, as I brought out the buckets at dinnertime, Silkie trotted eagerly across the pasture to her stall with no sign of distress. Score one for thinking positive and taking care of what needed to be done. Now, if I can just keep that up for the rest of 2012…..

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy 2012!

Have patience with everything unresolved in your heart

and to try to love the questions themselves

as if they were locked rooms
or books written in a very foreign language. 

Don’t search for the answers,
which could not be given to you now, 

because you would not be able to live them.

And the point is, to live everything. 

Live the questions now. 

Perhaps then, someday in the future, 

you will gradually, 

without even noticing it,

live your way into the answer.

~ Rilke