Saturday, November 11, 2006

Puppies and Cows and Clearcuts Oh My

I’m in Jerome Creek again, for my annual fall weekend trip. I left the day after my birthday this year, and didn’t, in fact, eat a birthday breakfast of bacon and toasted banana bread with peanut butter. I’ve got the place to myself for a couple days, and it’s afforded me a much-needed retreat (minus leaping up to put Sadie, the new puppy, outside when she pees on the kitchen rug—or ideally before that happens—or goes into the living room for the fifth time after I’ve told her not to). I’ve been focusing on living in the moment, you know, having my attention here, and choosing not to borrow trouble. It’s not as easy as it sounds, actually. Most of us spend a lot of time resenting people or events in the past, and worrying about events in the future, which wastes a lot of energy. I’m just now beginning to chip off the tip of the iceberg of my own non-present time.

It gets dark here at about 4:00pm these days, and by 5:30 it feels like the middle of the night (I actually took a nap on the sofa this evening before dinner, and argued with myself for awhile when I woke up about whether or not 6:00pm was too early to turn in). I returned home from my ride (on Shadow, of course) around 3:00pm instead of starting to think about going out then. Neither Kit nor Sadie came along; he’s getting very arthritic, and she’s just twelve weeks old, and I left Spackle in Seattle with Ian (although it felt pretty weird to be making rest stops just for myself). Shadow are companions enough, though, and she’s all the more like riding a big stuffed animal now that she’s got her shaggy Appaloosa winter coat on.

We found a lot of new clear-cutting today, one of the hazards of riding around in Potlatch Logging Company land. One of my discoveries, a trail that K&A dubbed “Calin’s Loop”, is now buried under a pile of branches and mud and other logging refuse. We were able to pick our way through some other brush, though, and wend our way down the Long Gallop. I will point out here that the Long Gallop is only that on the way up—it’s steep enough that galloping down is entirely out of the question. At least, I think so. Shadow was itching to try it, and jogged much of the way which, I will say, is not very comfortable bareback, even on a horse with virtually no withers.

We had a rager of a gallop, though, to make up for the missed Long Gallop, when we got to Maple Creek Meadow. I wanted to gallop, and Shadow wanted to gallop, but she took off slightly before I was ready, tossing me up her shoulders a bit. She wasn’t paying any attention to mud, ditches running with water, or major cow wallows, either (all things that can make a horse slip or lose footing), so I had to try and steer her, and try to not fall off, even though I was way too far forward which was making her run in a really weird up-and-down, bucky way (and then she jumped a couple logs). I eventually relaxed my thighs’ death grip on her enough to sit back, and I managed to stop her just before I’m sure she would’ve tried to jump a tree that lay across our path, probably killing both of us. Or just me. Anyway, we were about 10 minutes from home, and she was, naturally, still sweaty when we arrived (although I made her walk all the rest of the way), and so, rather than let her just dry out in the 33 degree wind, I walked her around the yard a bit, and she was perfectly content to hang out with me. As long as I had the lead rope.

Earlier in the day, I’d taken the two dogs out for a walk, and I started eating an apple as we came to the horses grazing in their pasture. We paused to say hi (allowed) or bark (not allowed) at the horses, and then Sikem caught the apple scent, evidently registered the complete lack of halters, and suddenly I had three horses milling around me, noses in my pockets, in my face, nibbling my braids, snorting in my ears, and basically trying to eat the apple out of my hand. I gave each one a bite and starting walking again (I took the bite and then fed the horse by hand), and Toby was satisfied and went back to her grass, Shadow dropped off in a few paces, and only Sikem followed me for several yards before giving up. I felt bad, briefly, for not holding on to the apple core to give him on the way back. But only briefly.

In addition to Sadie, there are also two new cows, called Eddie and Eddie Too, or just Too. They’re very cute palomino-colored steers, but I don’t remember what the breed is. Ian asked today and without thinking I said “Probably something tasty . . .” and he said “Oh! Right! Farm cows! I should probably stop forming an attachment to them . . .” I do like cows, though. They’re just kind of dopey and non-threatening.

Doucely is still around, doing her own thing, and the people in the family will be back tomorrow night.

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