So plug your ears, or you might just hear me cry.
(Picture of me and Flying Crow in the High Country in warmer days. Photo taken by Kate Seely)
Decisions are not random here. More often than not, they are based on nature. The high country, the rainy season, dropping temperatures, wind, drought, glaring sun, the road closed by snow. Things like that. Pretty simple, except we tend to complicate things with… emotion.
Our attempts at living where no one has before. A balancing act between human needs and nature. Complicated more by our decisions than what the weather does. Why can’t things be simple? As they are for the family of coyotes, loving the late-to-come winter, still out there pouncing voles in the dried brown grasses just out of Gunnar’s radar. Or the four elk still up high on Pole Mountain, grazing at an elevation of 13,000 feet. They say the Big One is rolling in tonight. These guys have not followed the forecast as intently as I have. I can only hope as the snows begin, they will turn to the timber and find their way to lower ground.
Now I’m looking through old photos. Warmer days. Sunshine, green grass, leaves on trees, solid ground to walk on, run on, kick up your heels on.
As I lay in bed last night, I cried. My husband unable to comfort me. And I am sorry I refused to let him try, for try he did. I know his warm touch would have soothed me, his gentle words a peaceful balm. Instead, I pushed him away, turned my back and cried myself to sleep.
I think you should know this. I don’t know why I share it any more than why I feel it. Sometimes I am tired of feeling and would rather find the perfect pill that washes it all away. Only not really, because I want to feel it all. I don’t want an unnatural solace, a potion that would make living less. I guess you have to take the good with the bad and there is always at least a bit of both if you’re really living.
This is ridiculous. I need to be stronger.
What do I really want?
Home. One. Seems pretty simple but it’s a constant theme. Here I have a love/hate relationship with the land. Yes, more love than hate. The best of relationships are that way. So why am I leaving again?
This is the last time I look elsewhere. If I find it there, I will move there. If I don’t, my search ends. That’s it. This place is not perfect, but it is mine, it is home. Complete with horses, chickens, cats and dog, a little family and a big mountain, and a healthy dose of normal problems to keep us all in line.
And there I am, loading the last four of my horses into the trailer to send them down to lower ground. Winter pasture. Before the road is closed. I wait until the last day. The last safe chance. My husband allows this of me. He knows how much it matters. He understands.
The hawk flies above me in the clear blue sky as my tears fall down into the snow. He is mine. There for me now when I am losing so much else. By choice. Damn it, what is wrong with me?
Winter will hit hard. Stinging against your cheeks like small stones as horizontal snow feels in the sub zero temperatures of early morning.
I won’t have to go out as early now. Tres will not be on back porch pulling down the snowshoes and ski poles to get my attention. I can wait for the sun to scale the mountain to the east and flood this little valley with sun on snow. But I won’t. I have been up early for years caring for those who need me, and really, I wouldn’t want it any other way. I will find something. The Steller’s Jays in the blue spruce, the pair of raven in the naked aspen, maybe even the magpie that shy from the coyote fence as I take the slop bucket down to the chicken coop each morning.
These will remain, a part of my morning ritual.
I frighten myself with my own decisions. Repercussions of creating life. It is not meant to be smooth, but we long for those still moments. They do not last.
And sometimes they die. A sorrow I care not touch on today.
The losses we have shared. Five foals in as many years. The scars are deep within me. I have carried each loss in my arms, bathed him or her with tears as he or she poured forth life that could not be contained.
No. Now I would rather focus on joy.
It is not always easy. But it is there if we look deep enough.
Horses have become me. A part of me. Chosen. Created. Not given, assumed or taken. I’m no lucky horsey girl grown up. I’m a horse woman, self made. An adult decision I like to say. Painted my own picture. And now I watch the last of them drive away…
Only for a few months. I remind myself and hold onto these words. Only words. But I can close my eyes and picture this. Some time in spring, long before leaves on the trees, streaks of snow patch cleared from pasture, brown waters in the Rio Grande, and tourists considering this a destination, we’ll be driving back with them in tow. And I know the feeling I will have, almost uncontained, bursting, just to have them again out of every window, following us about like bored children as we work about the ranch, the point and purpose to first light of day, ready to allow me at any given whim to wrap my arms about their neck and bury my nose in their warm hair.
It’s hard enough bringing Gunnar to Patagonia. I cannot bring all of them too.
How redundant to say “I will miss them.” These words are already assumed. You already know.
It’s not just about riding, is it? Maybe it was. Maybe that is how it started. But the deeper you go, the more there is.
They are now partners. We work with them, live with them, depend on them as they on us. Unlike pleasure horses, lawn ornaments, hobby horses, or toys. We are out there together and you hear me reading at night to the boys in our tent, while I hear you shuffling and stomping in the nearby trees. And some days we are both grouchy and other times both tired and short of patience, but you remind me to breathe deep and I do, and I smell you, your sweet musky sweat. And we get over it and get to work, and it’s not so bad, you know and I know so we get through it together. And then sometimes, just for the fun of it, we ride off to who knows where. Just because we can. We did more of that this year. And I thank you for trusting me to go where most wouldn’t dare and some places maybe that no horse has been before. You trust me. I tell you you can. And then I see your confidence grow stronger with each wild ride, like my child evolving into his own person. Maybe with a little bit of my help, but mostly because of you. Or maybe it’s a team. You grow, and I trust you more because of it, and really, it’s a very beautiful relationship changing all the time. It does not stop with what we did yesterday. Tomorrow will bring something new. Maybe subtle, like eye contact, little signals with a flick of my wrist, body language that we humans usually don’t quite get. We can learn to dance together. Not for ribbons or sport, not for some game or to show off. Just for each other.
And in that very moment, you grow and I grow. Perhaps not together. But maybe side by side.
(Here, Norman pulling a big rock and about as proud of himself as I am of him. This photo from “The Ditch Diaries”)
Yes, this is about home. It always is for me. The love of place and space. Balancing my love of home, mountain, horses, dog, husband and son. May be simple. But this is what matters most. To me.
And words. Though more than words. The spirit that words represent. The sharing of it all.
Now, something deeper than the pleasure of company which I will have again. Get over it. Be strong. Look what awaits me!
This is what is meant to be. Call me hokey but I believe that. I believe in the openings that presented themselves. The choices I have made. I will not let her down, let myself down, my husband down, who has believed in me through all the crazy stuff I have got him into.
At the end of the day this is my choice, what I want to do. This is what I wish I’d be the one doing if I heard someone else was doing this. Really, this is beyond a dream come true. I never could have dreamed this one up. This is no vacation. I wouldn’t want that, you know. “Vacation” is not my thing. Because even though I’ve made a living providing vacations, I have no interest in taking one myself. It’s got to have that point and purpose thing. And this does. See?
So, what I will take is this. Life. As full and rich as I can live it. And try to understand it’s just not always easy.
And then again remember this. I never ever would have dreamed up a place like this. Right here, right now. And this wonderful life we built here together.
But can I not want more?
How can something so simple become so complex?
Would I change this sadness and stay safe and warm in yesterday?
(The beautiful life of Bayjura)