If you rode into my heart you’d find a mess: love and friendship, grief and frustrated longings, faith and hope and half-dreamed dreams. But slow to a walk and let your horse graze there in the clover, and you can catch glimpses of blue skies through the thick stand of Aspen.
Gallop down the path on the quiet packed deadfall of so many falls and winters, and breathe in the not-unpleasant smell of decay rising. Feel your mount gathering to jump over the logs and other obstacles meant to keep you out. But keep going
and eventually you’ll come to a dense hedge growing along a wide wall.
Let your horse guide you; trust him to find the way and we just might meet there in the center of me, that is, if I can find my way.
Indian’s coat is a map of jagged edges, brown and white and marking him as a paint. His bones are thick and he is muscled under a dense winter coat. His head is large and his mane falls over his broad neck in long brown and white waves.
His eyes are intelligent, watching everything, but wary too. He has never lost that wildness he had just being loose in a large pasture, digging in the snow to get to the grass and virtually no human contact when he was a colt. He does not easily trust, and has been caused pain, though not in abuse but in ignorance.
Once upon his back, he is always willing, accepting praise in a pat on his neck that must come ever so slowly when you are on the ground. He is still resentful when he is caught, though he will always take a treat. He’s a good teacher to our young Bullet, and an even better companion.
He gives me warmth and confidence and I can count on him to move cattle or lead a pack-horse. I know he’ll bring me home because he wants to be there as much, or more, than I do!
Waking up to soft wet snow falling was a treat, like opening a gift on Christmas morning that you are totally not expecting, but that is the most perfect present you could imagine. Stopping to walk, the absolute stillness and peace filled me with warmth, snowflakes gathering on my black jacket, bedazzling me with winter’s love and grace.
I could hear the soft pith, pith, pith of each flake falling, and yet such deep silence clothed the world around me. Picking up my running pace, a tiny squeak sounded as each shoe hit the snowy road. A badger traveled parallel to me in the stubble field, finally ducking into his hole by a power pole. A chicken hawk swooped down from his perch when I passed, only to land on the next pole above me as I went on.
I think the Christmas lights, still on our house and the little apple tree, must have called this snow in, for there is nothing so filled with joy and peace as colored lights shining in falling snow.
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You are the first sip of hot coffee in the morning. You are my colt, Bullet napping in the pasture in the winter’s strong warm afternoon sun. You are my children who’ve found joy and love in their lives and work they are passionate about. You are “This is enough; I don’t need anymore.” You are a new novel published and coming off the bookstore shelves steadily, a few at a time, as word spreads.
You are soft thick snowflakes falling outside my window and a soaking rain shower on a hot summer day. You are a rider on the back of a horse riding a wooded mountain trail with horse loving friends. You are the deep sigh when you come to the view at the edge of the world. You are an eagle in flight soaring on invisible currents high in the bright blue sky.
Contentment you are ageless, found in the new born Rose and Emmett wrapped in soft fleece in loving arms, in the toddler asleep and cuddled up with the family dog, in the young girl lost in the pages of a book, in the high school athlete who just spiked the ball over the net, in the couple on the porch of their first home together, and in the elderly man standing at the grave of his beloved, finally released from the pain of disease.
You are friend to all, yet you are fleeting in our busy lives. We have not yet learned how to just be, in the moment, with you. Teach us in the stillness of our hearts and remind us when we forget, losing our way in the torrent of must haves.
I noticed the wind right away. When I run in the extremely early hours of morning, it is before the sun has even thought about making an appearance on the eastern horizon. Noticing the wind and temperature are important for me, as I have to decide whether or not I have too many layers or not enough layers, to finish my six-mile route without my body temperature getting in the way. But this morning, the gentleness of the wind was causing my Christmas lights to pattern the Northern Lights on the siding below the roof. In that moment, staring at the red, blue and green light waves, I heard the distant squeaking of the metal wind vane.
Crunching gravel kept the rhythm of my run, changing to patches of a kind of clicking sound when I ran into places where the road grater had pulled goat heads into the road bed from the ditches. High lines hummed a low kind of whine, as if passing some communication along from pole to pole, as I passed. The black sky was overlaid with steel grey clouds obscuring most, but not all the stars; the remnants of the super moon still glowed in the small crescent. What was missing were Jupiter and Mars, having been swallowed by the hungry clouds like most of the stars.
Brought up short by the sudden cloying scent of a skunk I must have spooked, but never saw, I slowed because of the small dark shape on the side of the road, just at the corner where I’d seen skunk cross the dirt road on many runs. My brain fought to pick through the darkness to tell me what this thing was and whether or not I needed to back-off. Getting as close as I dared, the scraggly stems of a broken-down tumbleweed took shape and I felt my breath ease out and my stride lengthen.
Slowing to cool down for the last few minutes, I didn’t see them, but my ear was drawn by the sound of the stock tank float grating against the wire that holds it, and I knew the horses were in the corral. I went on past the sidewalk, just a few steps toward the barn and corral, and the sweet sound of soft wuffling pulled my feet to the fence, where my young colt stood. The little light from the waning moon reflected his buckskin coat and I could see the light outline around the dark nostrils stretched up over the top rail. I would have missed the warm exchange of breath with his soft muzzle against my sweating cheek if I hadn’t been paying attention to the space.
I asked my husband what he would want me to include in my list of resolutions for 2018. He said, “Listen more.”
I can get defensive about this, but it wouldn’t change anything. Perceptions always have a grain of truth in them. It’s easy to think you are listening, to convince yourself that you are a good listener, and yet still be forming a response while the other is talking, or be off in your mind coming up with a plan to do whatever it is you are half-hearing.
Resolution one: stay in the moment when someone is speaking to me and maybe just repeat back what I think I heard.
Resolution two: pick up these ideas from the last two years, to give thanks every day, use my mom’s china for cryin’ out loud.
I will continue to move every day and continue having once-a-month hike/snow shoe days all winter in preparation for next summer’s hiking season. I will write more; I know, a writer who has to make a resolution to write! I’m super excited for the next two courses that start today for masters in professional creative writing: Writing and Healing, and The Writing Life.
And last, I have got to learn how to let things go that are hurtful to me when I need not let them be. I’m good at finding blessing as I run or pray or write or ride, but then it all floats off on the slightest breeze that comes along when I’m not doing any of those things.