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Remember the book/poem by Jenny Joseph, entitled When I am Old I Shall Wear Purple? It has become Chickadee’s new mantra.
Our old girl has a new winter coat.
A bright purple one.
Up to now she’s worn hand me down coats that never quite fit her. But no more.
She is resplendant in purple!
It’s a heavy one to protect her when the temperature plummets – something I am certain will happen this winter.
She and Pepper are ready for anything. Pepper in red and Chickadee in purple.
It’s high fashion in the pasture.
For the horses, that is.
My pasture clothes are old and faded.
I wonder if the girls will let me stand beside them now that they are so fashionable.
I guess as long as I come to them bearing food, they’ll tolerate me!
What are you wearing this winter to keep yourself warm?
The Golden Girls had some dental work done yesterday. Had to have their teeth checked and “floated.” This essentially means grinding down any teeth that have become pointed so that the old girls can eat properly. It’s not the most pleasant of experiences. It involves light sedation and a lot of noise from the grinder.
Long ago I promised Miss P. that I would never publish a photo of her in less than flattering circumstances. It seems the least I can do for my old friend. So I will not photograph her dental sessions. Wouldn’t want to be photographed when I’m in the dentist chair either!
I do feel better knowing that teeth have been checked and the girls will be better able to chew their food. Turns out Chickadee hasn’t got many teeth left. Kinda explains her messy eating habits.
In the meantime, look who I found lounging in the tack room.
Is that cuteness personified or what?
“In the depth of winter I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.”
~ Albert Camus
It seems that in times of joy and times of grief I always have something to learn from our two old horses.
If you recall, a month ago, on April Fool’s Day, a tremendous wind blew down the shed that provided shelter for the pasture horses. This was Pepper and Chickadee’s favorite hangout. They hunkered down against wind and snow inside that shed. They took a break from the glaring sun in that shed. It was their shelter. Their home base. And now it’s gone. There’s nothing left. Even the boards have been carried away and used for another project.
What’s interesting to me is that the horses don’t look back.
They don’t hang around the location of the shed, grieving. Wishing it were different. Wishing it was still there for them, though I imagine they do miss it. April has brought us snowy days and horrific winds–times when a cozy shelter would be a welcome relief. Instead of mourning what was, they have made do with what is. They find shelter of sorts in the trees when the wind howls through the pasture. (And take it from me, it really does HOWL out there.) They stand butts to the wind and endure, make do, get by. And somehow they know the wind won’t blow forever; the snow will give way to warm spring days and long green grass. Perhaps that consoles them, or gives them strength to carry on despite their loss.
In April a terrible wind blew through my life, taking my dear older sister from this earth.
In so many ways she was my home base, my shelter. She had been the matriarch of our family since our mother died almost a quarter of a century ago. She was the person left from our family who had known me since my birth, and somehow that matters to me. It helped place me in my life–as if I might become invisible without her knowledge of me. She was my sister, teacher, mother-figure, mentor and most of all she was my great friend. I miss her terribly.
I fear I am not as strong as the horses because I still yearn to go back to my shelter. I want a different ending to this story, yet I know that cannot happen.
So like our horses, I will make do; put my back to the frigid wind and wait for the warmth of summer.
Rest in peace, Judy.
I don’t know what goes into your definition of a good weekend, but for me it often includes a long, lovely, indulgent nap.
I’m particularly fond of dozing on the couch, in the sun while my husband watches something on television. Something in which I have absolutely no interest. I let it become white noise to lull me to la-la-land.
When we went to the pasture on Sunday to feed the Golden Girls, we found them doing their own version of going to la-la-land. Chickadee was awake enough to hear us coming.
Pepper was not.
She was out as the proverbial light.
Then came the hard part.
The getting up part.
The getting up on legs that are stiff and don’t want to move.
First it was a hobble. Then a limp. Finally the old girls walked the stiffness out and made their way to lunch.
Wondering if I’m describing myself or the horses? These days it could be all of us.
P.S. Thinking of Bud yesterday on what would have been his 31st birthday.
As the cold weather continues, the regulars show up when I feed the Golden Girls. It seems the horses know my routine better that I do!
Truthfully they show up no matter what the weather. I’m just a little more gullible when it’s cold!
Some of you may be wondering how I could be any more gullible. You’d be justified!
Gullible could be my middle name, though I prefer to think I’m more kind than gullible.
Spin it however you want.
If you’re a horse and part of “our herd” there’s likely a hay cube or two in your future.
The Golden Girls in their finest.
These two have won everyone’s hearts out at the pasture.
They get special delivery hay so they don’t have to fight the younger, stronger horses.
How cool is that?
I’m so grateful to everyone for looking out for our girls.
Gives me faith in human nature. Of course I’ve pretty much always had that faith.
How about you?
I’ve been practicing something for a while now.
Truth be told, some days I’m better at it than others.
But I keep coming back to the practice of “taking in the good.”
It’s a phrase (and action) I’ve learned from Rick Hanson, a neuropsychologist and mindfulness author. He teaches that our brains are hardwired to notice negative events. That’s why you can still remember in vivid detail that humiliating book report you gave in front of your entire fourth grade class, while you can’t remember a single wonderful thing about that year.
It’s called the negativity bias, and we all have it.
So a way to counter that negativity is to focus on the good that surrounds us each day–to notice the many gifts that seem to come from nowhere and fill our souls.
Hanson suggests that we take each one in fully, reveling in the moment, allowing it to seep into our every nook and cranny and warm us like sunlight on our backs.
I’m grateful that I have so many opportunities to take in the good when I’m out with the horses.
There are many days when I grumble about having to go to the pasture. Days when I’m so darned busy I think my head might explode, or my entire body will burst into flame if I add one more thing to my list of things to do.
Then I remind myself (again) that feeding is not an optional activity.
It’s a commitment–one that I’ve made to these horses and intend to keep.
So one day this week I’d had a particularly busy day, and was late getting out to the horses. I was stressed because I knew it was going to get dark soon, and I wanted to be finished with feeding before that happened. I could feel that knot in my chest expanding; my head buzzed with negative self talk.
Until I got there.
And then I took a breath, and another.
The horses had been moved to the far pasture, so I had to walk to find our Golden Girls.
The exercise felt good, as did the brisk air.
I came upon these trees backlit by the setting sun, and my entire mood shifted.
It was just so beautiful. I let myself take it all in, every gorgeous limb. I took a bunch of pictures and then went off to find the horses, who were very glad to see me, and their dinner.
Happy Thanksgiving dear readers.
Give yourself a moment or two today to take in the good.
And know that I am so very grateful for your continuing connection to my adventures in the pasture.
One recent afternoon I went to feed Miss P. and couldn’t find her. That was unusual because lately she and her girlfriend Miss Chickadee hang out close to the gate. They’ve got the feeding time firmly written in their calendars and are right there.
The image of these two old dears waiting on me adds to my guilt if ever I’m late. It’s a great motivator!
When I didn’t see them, I readied the food and then went on a walkabout.
I checked the shed.
I checked the water.
I checked the adjoining pasture where I’ve sometimes found them.
No Golden Girls.
I even ventured into the larger herd, though I knew that was folly.
These two will do anything to avoid the herd.
When I was about to give up and embrace the idea that they’d been transported onto an alien space ship, I caught sight of them.
Naturally it was at the opposite end of the pasture.
I really got my workout that day.
When I came upon them, I just stood and watched for a moment.
They had their backs to me, looking out at the Interstate. Two skinny butts, tails swishing flies away.
The girls would face forward and then every so often turn to each other as if sharing an observation. Then it was eyes back to the highway.
What were they doing?
Of course, I can’t say for sure, but looked to me like they were sharing comments about the cars passing before them. I thought they might be counting cars, or looking for red pickups with cute cowboys driving, or noting how many people were driving alone versus car pooling.
You know, important scientific observations like that.
Eventually I called to Pepper and she turned to greet me. Slowly she and Chickadee followed me to the gate and lunch.
That night when I told my husband about it, he suggested they were playing “Slug Bug.” It’s the game kids play, shouting out each time they see a Volkswagen Beetle on the road. It can become quite a competition.
“That’s it,” I declared. “Pepper and Chickadee were playing Slug Bug.”
It’s an image that makes me smile.
And I wonder who won.