Sunday, August 31, 2008

Rocky- Part II

Is there any greater love than a sixteen-year-old girl for her horse? I know that when I was that age, Rocky, my old Arabian gelding was the centre of my universe, my main squeeze and the love of my life. I could recount a thousand stories of the adventures that we had together; running up freeways, riding through drive-thus and getting chased out of the bush by bears. We had a full and exciting life together. But mostly, what I remember are the simple days, the mundane tasks of caring for him, riding the same old trails or just spending time hanging out at the barn. I loved the way that he would look down his nose at me as he rested his head on my shoulder or how he would try to steal treats from my pocket. I remember all the rides we would take in the woods alone, just him and I. The way that it would feel, for a fleeting moment, that we were one animal, and truly wild and free. I loved a million things about Rocky, from the faint nicker he would give at the sight of a banana to the way he would nip me at feeding time! I remember one morning in particular; it is forever imprinted in my soul. It was in March of 1998….

6:30am was too early for my sixteen-year-old sleep hungry body but at the sound of my alarm, I crawled, half dead, out of my snug warm bed, slipped on a pair of jeans and headed out in to the dark and cold morning to feed my horse.

Dawn had barely broke when I left the house in my favorite Cowichan sweater, its cream and chocolate wool, knit tightly in an Indian print pattern, my only protection against the cold. A soft yellow glow fell from the street light outside my home, creating a false impression of warmth in the cool blue and gray fog. A blanket of silver frost lay over the lawns, cars and rooftops of the houses around me. I pulled my toque a little lower and slung my backpack across my shoulders and I mounted my bike and slowly peddled out of the cul-de-sac. As I picked up the pace, I braced my forehead against the frigid air. Goosebumps flashed up my arms and back as the harsh bite of a Canadian winter morning sliced through the heavy knit of my jacket and jeans, numbing my skin in seconds and stealing my last ounce of warmth.

I turned left at the end of my street and rode half a block before entering a park that divided the ever-encroaching suburbs from the dairy farms and berry field of this once rural town. I pumped hard in an attempt to warm my body as I crossed the soccer fields, and rode down off the hillside and into the farm filled valley below. Then minutes later I turned on to the narrow street that lead to the barn of an old estate. I could barely see the road.

As I moved forward into a sea of clouds, I could see nothing but a sheet of white! There was no road before me and I could barely see the faintest outline of my bike. I felt as though the fog had swallowed me whole and in my panic, feared that I had become lost. But I knew the path by heart, so continued onward blindly. The air was so thick that I could smell the brimstone and ozone scent of rain and could feel the touch of it on my skin. Everything was quiet and still. I knew that I was alone and yet could feel that something was watching me. A shiver, unrelated to the cold, ran up my back as I glanced in each direction at once. Out of the corner of my eye I caught sight of two black eyes in the mist. I gasped and jerked to the side, nearly falling on the slick pavement as my heart leapt into my throat. I came to a stop. Barely breathing, I mustered up the courage to look behind me. I smelled wet wool and breathed a huge sigh of relief. Turning, I could just make out the vague shape of an ewe, nearly undistinguishable from the fog but for the black shine of her eyes. She bleated at me, impatiently. A soft nicker followed her call. A little unsteadily, I rode on until I found the driveway of the barn. I stepped of my bike and let the heavy weight of my backpack fall to the ground. I was struggling with numb fingers to undo the clasp and chain of the frostbitten steel gate when I heard hoot beats hitting frozen earth.

From the deep recesses of fog, the form of horse emerged. The rich sorrel of his coat appeared nearly black in contrast with the white of his broad blaze and four socks. His long flaxen mane rose in the air and caught the wave of the wind as he leapt off the grass and onto the gravel path in front of me. “Good morning, my love,” I whispered as I reached up to run my hand along his neck. He nimbly skirted my touch and pivoted to stand behind me, churning the ground with his impatience. He nipped my shoulder as I walked towards the barn. “Oh, its like that, is it?” I said with affection. Rocky has always been rude in the mornings, hungry for his breakfast.

By the time I reached the barn, the sheep were congregated in front of the door. Eight faces stared at me with blank and beady eyes. Rocky waited patiently at the door for his feed but the sheep piled up infront of him in an attempt to dash in to the barn. I heard a ruckus and turned to see that three of the sheep had tried to barge through the narrow doorway at once, becoming lodged and apparently, panic stricken. I was standing in front of them when they broke loose and was bowled over as they scattered in haste. “I’ll have you for mutton one day, you little beasts!” I muttered while picking myself up off the dirty barn floor. My hand brushed something wet along the back of my jeans. I swore under my breath as I attempted to look at my own, sheep shit smeared butt. I reached for something to chuck at the offending sheep, but failed to find anything handy. “Me, you and some mint jelly, one day soon!” I swore at the closest ewe. She started back at me with an empty expression. Rocky was standing in his stall, head and neck stuck out the door, watching me in apparent amusement. Reclaiming my dignity, I straightened my clothes and went on with my morning.

By the time I had fed, cleaned the stall and dumped the manure, Rocky had polished off his grain and was standing quietly, contently munching his hay. Unable to resist the pull, I walked to him and slipped my cold hands under his mane and into the soft and silky depths of his coat. My fingers tingled painfully as the heat of his body thawed them. I laid my cheek against his shoulder and breathed in his scent. Reluctantly I let go of him and walked to door, calling behind me, “I’ll see you after school!”

As I pulled out of the yard, I glanced back at the barn and was stopped in my tracks. The sun had just peaked over the hill behind me, its long rays of light streamed across the valley, cutting through the heavy fog and turning the blue of dawn into the soft pink of morning. At the first touch of sun, the silver frost had melted and turned into a million droplets of light. Each blade of grass, the fences and the barn itself seemed to have been coated in diamonds and set out to sparkle in the sun. I stared in awe at the beauty before me. I grasped the moment and tucked it away, deep into my memory. As I rode to school that day I felt inside myself a rare sense of contentment and a connection to something greater than myself. I smelled of manure, horse and sweat. I was tired, bitterly cold and had been assaulted by sheep. And yet I was blissfully happy. Instinctually I knew that moment was special for some reason. And it was. When I am really stressed and feel at odds with the world, or when I am overwhelmed with anxiety, I can assure myself that there was definitive moment in time where all was not right, but I was still happy and spiritually fulfilled. I can conjure that memory at will and feel myself standing there once again, watching the early morning light touch my horse, the sheep and the dew.

My picture for this post is of Rocky and I at 16 (we were both the same age).
My headline picture for this blog is of Rocky and I, taken on that same day, deep in the woods.

Friday, August 29, 2008


A secret. I can be a trifle obsessive. Another secret. Obsessive is an understatement. I easily become totally and completely absorbed in whatever new thing strikes my fancy. It worries my DB. When he points this out, I tell him that it works in his favor! as I am obsessive over him, he aught not complain! In truth, he sometimes he has reason to worry. When I discover something new that I enjoy, I just cant seem to leave it alone. It may be a book or a kind of food, a horse for sale or a new could be just about anything! Once I have it in my mind, I cant let go or give my attention to anything else for more than a fleeting moment and become resentful of anything that pulls me away from it. Books are one of my many passions. Next to horses, dogs and lovin' my man, reading is right up there in my list of priorities. I will literally read all day long. It is amazing, the tasks that can be completed while reading. I can walk, cook, play with the dog, do chores, all with my nose stuck in a book. I have to stop myself at driving (though reading at stoplights is legal, right?)

I used to worry about my obsessive nature. I never allowed myself to become a drinker or a smoker as a teen, and rarely if ever have a single drink today because I recognized early a pull within myself towards addiction. Other areas of my life, like horses and reading, I allow to run at full throttle. Fortunately, or unfortunately, depending on which way you look at it, I am afforded a lot of time in my life in which to explore such vices.

Yesterday I discovered a blog that immediately became my addiction of the day (that and Apple Cinnamon Cheerios!). Apparently, I am the last person in the free-blog world to hear of The Pioneer Woman! (Confessions of A Pioneer Woman) A brief summary for all of you that are as out of touch as I am. Pioneer Woman is a 30 something year old lady raised by an upper class family in a city in Oklahoma. After high school she moved to L.A. for six years to go to collage and live the high flutin' city life. On a brief stopover in her hometown (on her way to law school in Chicago) she met and fell in love with a forth generation rancher (who just happens to be hot as all hell). She married him, had four babies, became the ranchers wife and the rest, as they say, is history. Hers is a professional blog, filled with absolutely gorgeous photos, cute video and audio clips, yummy recipes and a very hot little romance story (of how she met her husband). Yesterday, I spent a few hours getting caught up on "Black heels to Tractor Wheels: A love story" This cute little saga kept me glued to the computer screen, desperate for more!. My only disappointment is that she is still writing the damn thing! There should have been a disclaimer at the top of the page warning anyone that is insanely impatient and obsessive or that goes mental when unable to finish a book not to start reading!!!

I am a self professed hopeless romantic. My story is the polar opposite of this love story in that I was the country girl and my DB is the high flutin city boy. I wouldnt have it any other way. But what cowgirl didn't dream, at one point or another, to be swept a way by a cowboy? (the "do goodin', god fearin' ranchers type"). If you wish to indulge that fantasy for a moment or two, you just have to scoot on over to Pioneer Woman for a glimpse at the life of a ranchers wife. While I hate to plug an already successful blog, and highly encourage you'all to check out the wonderful people and stories on my favorite blog list, I wanted to share with you my lattest obsession. I am heading on over there now (with my second bowl of Apple Cinnamon Cheerios!) Care to join me?

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Home Wreckers

Speaking of bitches....

My boyfriend is hot. LOL, he is! Sometimes I forget what a gorgeous, well dressed, hard bodied piece of...well, you get the point. He is also a total flirt. He has killer eyes and smile that can light up the room. He is funny, charismatic and knows how to work it. You all can imagine how well that boded with the fact that I use to be an insanely jealous girlfriend. Over the years I have stabbed many a hussy with my dagger like glares! Within the first month of our relationship I had mastered the cocked eyebrow, pursed lipped, "what in the hell do you think you're lookin' at" face and never hesitated to use it.

These days, as a mature and secure adult woman, I tend to let things slide. I think it is "cute" when the girls flirt and pine for his attention. I trust my DB absolutely and rarely if ever feel threatened by any of them but occasionally a woman comes along that pushes things just a step to far and really pisses me off. Yesterday's post got me to thinking about the Stepford Wives, the good bitches and the bad ones. And about the Home Wreckers, woman who don't give a flying rats ass whether a man is married, engaged or committed, or even if their significant other is standing right beside them. I remember one in particular from our first year together. I called her "Teeth".

She had a nice pair (of teeth that is). She was a waitress at one of our favorite restaurants and never missed a chance to flirt with my DB (the fact that I was there never failed to escape her attention.) She would saunter over, rest her hip on the corner of the table (back towards me) and flirt her blue eyed, blond haired, skinny little ass off. She'd bat her eye lashes while using her tongue to point out each of her flawless white porcelain veneers. Her daddy was a dentist. She smiled and giggled and touched my DB's shoulder every few seconds. Teeth was a full blooded, Grade A, home wrecking bitch and I loved nothing more than to rub her face in the fact that I had my DB, hook, line and sinker. We'd hold hands while she chatted and pretend to forget that she was there for a moment or two while lost in each others eyes. I would catch her mid sentence to ask her for a slice of lemon in my water or to repeat the "specials" (though there were none.) I would tell her what a "doll" he was for buying me that new horse or how much fun we had in Vegas last weekend. I loved to get her goat. Nothing made me happier than when she would leave in a huff, having failed to get a rise out of my man.

I know her type because I use to be accused of being one. Looking back, I can see what all the fuss was about but at the time I hadn't much of a clue. Actually, I did. I just didn't care. I was a relentless flirt. Did I just use past tense? Hmm... In any event, I had a particular talent for pissing women off and for getting their boyfriends in trouble. Contrary to popular belief, I was never knowingly involved with a "committed" man but in a small town, fiction tends to be more popular that fact and I didn't use much discretion. At the time I felt that it was not my responsibility to do investigative work on the men that I dated. If they told me that they were free, I took them at their word. Their lack of integrity was not my problem, or so I thought. Obviously I feel differently now but still don't understand the inclination we have as women to place blame on the home wrecker. Are they bitches? Hell yah! Are they morally reprehensible? Absolutely. Should they be held responsible when a man is "led" astray? I think not. You cant rape the willing.


Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Bitches- warning contains adult content!

So, here it is....I am a total bitch. And I believe, most women I know are! We, as a species are cranky, rude and catty as hell. We are jealous and tenacious, self righteous and cunning. Sure we can be sweet, and soft and motherly. We can present a gracious facade while serving our worst enemy tea but... But! beneath it all, we are, almost all, to a tee, bitches! Except for....

There are rare and saintly women out there that never seem to have a bad day. Women like these usually walk around in a perpetual state of happiness with Cinderella-esk mice and birds following them along as they walk through life, (singing no doubt.) Their houses are always clean, their hair always done and they never, ever shout. They speak in a soft whisper, giggle like schoolgirls and say, "Oh, bless you dear!" when you sneeze. Their husbands are lovingly tended to, children, well behaved and they never, ever swear. I think that they also have people chained up in their basement! and S&M parties on weekends. I like to call them "The Jones's".

There is a Dutch town close to where I live named Lyden. It's streets are clean and lawns, perfectly groomed. Huge Oak trees overhang the main drag and cute country stores line the sidewalks. Each house has shutters and fresh paint and everyone smiles and waves as you drive through. It is a picturesque little town and just so happens to creep the shit out of me. Lyden is filled with "Jones's"! Cookie cutters, if you will, that I deeply distrust. I am sure that the town harbours a cult of some that brainwashes their disciples into mowing their lawns twice a week. I swear that Lyden's citizens have a slightly glazed over look to their eyes. and am surprised that the women don't all wear dresses, Stepford style.

I like imperfect people and bitchy women. The ones that can be snitty at times and that forget your birthday or drink to much on the weekend. The ones that say, "I love my husband dearly, BUT,...." I remember the first time I saw my darling 75 year old, 70 pound, 4'10" grandmother say, "Fuck!" LOL, I do! And it was not over something major. We had run out of marshmallows! My mother, she likes to mutter "Oh, assholes!" They are sweet and gentile but they are real women! Women are bitches because we are emotional and because we care....or because we have PMS or peri, pre or post menopause. As much as I would have liked to see a Hilary Clinton become the first female president, the idea of a menopausal woman running the free world scared the living shit out of me! Can you imagine! I can see it now..... The Commander and Chief saying, "Damn, where in the hell is Iraq again? I cant remember shit these days! ...Oh, to hell with'em! Blow it all up! And get me a cold freakin' towel while your at it. Who turned the heat up again?"

On second thought, maybe that is just what the US needs!

How is that for being bitchy?

*** something funny for you all*****

When I googled images of "bitchy woman" to see if I could find a funny cartoon for this post, a picture of Hilary came up. Seriously!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Lundbom- Part 2

The first month I had Shaunti, I took him to a natural horsemanship clinic. I tried to make sure that everyone knew that the skinny, course haired freak I lead into the arena that first day was a new purchase. Some looked skeptical about my claim, as I probably would have. Shaunti and I both wore our emotion on our sleeves. We both trembled at times, him at the touch of a stick, me with nervous energy. When I threw a rope over his back for the first time, he literally sat down. We had blow ups and breakthroughs but we walked away from that clinic with the tools that would help us forge a relationship of trust in the months that followed. All of our work lead up to that moment last Monday, when I found myself watching my horse fling himself out of a trailer, and on to the ground at my feet. At that terrifying moment, my first thought was that I had failed him. That I had just ruined all of our hard work by putting my own desires ahead of his welfare. I though that we had fallen.

When we started our journey together, I didn't have the confidence to so much as lead a horse. After that clinic, I looked at every moment with him as a job interview. The position I wanted was that of his CEO. I needed to be the God of his universe to whom he could place his trust and welfare! I knew the importance of setting him up for success, in small steps. I worked hard to build his confidence in me. I felt that I was personally responsible for Shaunti's mental welfare and that his trust was precious and volatile, to be handled with care. Every moment that I handled him, and every situation I put him in was a test of my discretion.

All three times that he blew out of that trailer and every time he hurt himself, I felt responsible. But what I saw in Shaunti, once he had picked himself up off the ground, was not fear or panic! He stood quietly, with his head held low and his eyes at half mast. He did not look to me. There was no one there to blame but himself. I hadn't placed him in any danger, he had. A cowboy once told me, "A horse will kill himself to save his own life." Any horseman knows how true that statement is. I did my part by keeping him safe but his confidence in himself had failed. We had not fallen. He had.

He stepped away soundly. You had to wait a while for that, didn't you? I wanted you all to know how much that fall really meant to us, in our journey together. That moment was pivotal. He not only walked away unscathed, he remained sound throughout our trip and never once took a bad step. Barb and I went riding that night. I didn't baby him. I didn't try to make it all okay. I did not support or encourage him. We simply went for a ride. And it was one of the BEST rides I have ever had.

Lundbom Lake and the park around it is so unbelievably beautiful. The light, the wind, the land, all seemed to flow together, in harmony. I was happy. It was payday. I had a good friend riding beside me and a good horse under me. We rode up hills blanketed in tall yellow grass and through small valleys filled with standing Birches, their white bark, a striking contrast against the earthy green of its leaves. The sound of the wind through their branches rose and fell like an ocean tide, with an ebb and flow that carried across the grass in waves. The wind had such substance as it rushed through the valleys that it played with our hair and left none of our senses untouched. We followed the fences and enjoyed the view, with no particular destination in mind. By the time we rode into camp that night, we had both found our centre and a peace of mind that would carry with us through each of the following rides.

The next morning we rode out for a long ride caring a packed lunch. The map was more a source of confusion that any kind of guide and as Barb had trouble reading it, I was left as the navigator. I managed to find the main trail, a wide road named Coco Bonk that led us Northwards to smaller trails with names like Wounded Knee, Deja Vu and Backdoor. We made our way to a Tent Lake, where we stopped for lunch. I believe it was at that point that I made the wrong turn. Its hard to say but we ended up riding through the famous Douglas Lake Ranch, their fields speckled in bull holes and black steers. Barb and I usually talk a lot but for some reason we both said little, preferring to take in the view and soak up the sun in comfortable silence. Our mood spoke to the tranquil beauty of the land around us. There was nothing harsh or loud about its gentle slopes, still lakes or muted colors. It was quiet, in the truest sense of the word.

We rode for six hours that day. I cant remember when I least felt so spiritually fulfilled. Shaunti was amazing. He is by far the best trail horse I have ever ridden. He seems to have an uncanny ability to always know where his feet are and really picks his ground. He is wicked fast too. Cara, Barbs mare, is a fast walker and one of the fastest horses I have ever seen at a gallop (off the racetrack) but even she couldn't match the pace Shaunti set at a walk. Her trot, lope and gallop are a different story but Shaunti can walk out like none other.

On the last day, the rain that we had managed to ride between, finally caught up with us. We simple rode to sunshine, staying off the trail, preferring to follow fences and narrow coyote tracks through the bush and up the hills to catch a view of the lake below. Leaving was bittersweet and not without incident. Shaunti had issues in the trailer but he survived and I didn't take it personally. Time, is all he needs. We rode the range together, him and I. I trusted in him as he did in me. I owe a debt of gratitude to my friend Barb for pushing us to go and for taking me, she is truly one in a million. Sometimes, I feel so blessed in my life with having such great friends and family, that I get overwhelmed with anxiety that I may loose a piece of it. I have to remind myself that I will loose horses, friends and loved ones along the way but hopefully, what I wont loose, is the memory of the time I spent with them. I will carry the images of those yellow hills, framed between the ears of my dear old gelding, forever. I named my horse Shaunti in hopes that one day his name would reflect the nature of his spirit. Shaunit is a Punjabi word, meaning "peace".

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Lundbom- Part 1

If ever I have met a horse that I wish could talk, it would be my eighteen-year-old quarter horse gelding, Shaunti. He is a veteran in the truest sense of the word as he bares the battle scars from a lifetime of hard use. I only wish I could hear his stories, perhaps I would be able to understand him better if I could but unfortunately I can only guess at what has had happened to him by witnessing the aftermath in his actions.

I bought Shaunti because he was as scared of people as I was of horses. The story of when, why and how I purchased him is best left for another day but I can tell you that with a lot of digging I was able to piece together his past. He was born on a cattle ranch in Oregon and spent the first 13 years of his life as a working ranch horse. His breeders told me that he was a "cowboys friend" and that in thiry years of raising horses, they had never met a horse that could walk out the way that Shaunti could. From there his story gets a little shady. I know that in the years after he was sold off the ranch, and before he found his way to me, he bounced his way through four different homes. Somewhere along the way he suffered abuse and was in some type of accident. When I purchased him he was over 200 pounds underweight, had a broken nose, healed fractures to his wither and shoulder and a grim outlook life.

Despite his issues, we were the perfect fit for each other. I was terrified that a horse was going to hurt me and Shaunti felt likewise about people. We would stand staring at each other, both worrying about what was going to happen when we came together. Over the past ten months we have worked hard to build a mutual trust in one and other. We spent hours and hours on the ground and in the saddle developing confidence and peeling away the layers of distrust that had accumulated over the years. I promised him that one day I would take him back to the open range and we would ride the hills together, as I had always dreamed of doing. I didn't expect that I would have the opportunity make good on that promise so soon but when one of my dearest friends, Barb called me up last Thursday and invited Shaunti and me to go camping with her on Monday, I was all to happy to accept. She knows me well so she didn't leave me much time to worry myself to death about it but did give me enough time to prepare. Or at least, in theory she did. She also knew that she would be away for the four days between when I agreed to go and when we were scheduled to leave and out of cell phone range, to boot. I still managed to find a way to cancel on her.... twice. As usual, she refused to take no for an answer.

I had been told by Shaunti's previous owners that he "absolutely does not tie" and that if I hauled him he "absolutely had to be hauled backwards." Barb's trailer is a three horse angle haul with no dividers and as we would be hauling with her mare, there was no way that we could not tie him. Barb is a good friend, which is to say she pushes me to go above and beyond what I think I am capable of. I would venture to say that I tend to be a worry wort. Actually, worry wort is a gross understatement. I think things to death...and then beat on them a while for good measure. I will think my way out of doing just about anything. I'd trust Barb with my life and know that she would never push me to do something that I was not capable of but, true to my nature, I couldn't take the heat and tried to bail on her. On Monday, she came to pick us up with a camper, horse trailer, her dog and a tough, no nonsense palomino mare named Cara. We were going, and thats all there was too it!

The past five times Shaunti was hauled, he was alone and loose in a stock trailer. Each time it had taken 10-15 minutes to get him in the door. As I don't own a trailer, I did not have the opportunity to work on him on loading but in the nine months since he had been hauled last we had developed a lot more tools and trust to get the job done. I had also been tying him without event but was worried that with the added stress of the trailer, things might go a little haywire.

On Monday, standing at the back of Barbs trailer, it was crunch time. There was no way I was going to tie him hard in the trailer while I was still in it, so the plan was for me to walk him in, hand his lead rope to Barb through the open slats in the side wall of the trailer and walk out. Like sensible women, we talked it over before giving it a go. I was halfway out of the trailer when the little freak blew up. He had tried to follow me out and naturally Barb had shortened up the lead and grabbed towards the snap of his halter. I had forgotten to tell her not to do so as he is still head shy with strangers and tends to panic when they grab his face. He had blown backwards, pulling the lead out of Barbs hands and had whacked his head on the top of the trailer on his way out. Part of the little star on his forehead was missing but as Barb pointed out, "it is not even bleeding and is long way from his heart." We tried it again.

This time Shaunti stayed put when I handed him off to Barb but when I went to close the door he once again blew backwards and scooted out of the trailer! Damn! A small sliver of white was all that was left of his star. What we needed was a different plan! I figured that if I were to turn him around and let him face the door before walking out, it just might work. He loaded for me without any fuss and when I turned him around I gave him slack and stood with him for a few minutes, waiting for him to relax. He was blowing and shaking his head. It must have been throbbing. When he looked a little more settled, I told him to stand and walked out, closing the door immediately behind me. He was in! From the outside of the trailer I walked him up the front and tied him hard. We both held our breath. Nothing. Not a twitch! We double checked that everything was ready to go before putting Cara in the trailer. We talked through the game plan twice before attempting anything. I climbed up the side of the trailer at Shaunti's head while Barb stood at the end of the trailer with Cara. At the count of three we went for it! Barb popped the door open, pointed her mare inside and slammed the door shut the second her golden butt was sufficiently inside. We quickly tied Cara, jumped in the truck and started moving. The first minute we both held our breaths but we heard and felt nothing. We looked at each other and burst out laughing, slapping each others back and bouncing up and down in our seats! I was actually giggling. I could not believe it! By the skin on our teeth we had managed to git'r'done!! We were going campin'!

I am not usually so reckless with my horses but I keep telling myself that they have to work for me, not the other way around. I always seem to be the one sacrificing my desires for their benefit but lately I have been making an effort to turn the tables a little. It took about three hours to get to Lundbom Lake near Merritt, BC. We stopped to check the horses along the way but they hauled quietly the whole way up through the mountains and down into the yellow bushed valley where we would spend the next three days. I had never been to Lundbom but had heard that it is a trail riders paradise. As we drove through the park towards camp, I was blown away but the natural beauty of the grasslands, pale blue lakes and White Birches. We managed to snag a campsite that was half tucked into a grove of Pine trees but that still afforded us a view of the lake and within thirty feet of the long pole horse corrals. I stepped out of the truck and in to the fresh air and sunshine.

Barb and I had talked a lot on the way up about how we were going to unload the horses and had a good game plan in place. The first stage went off without a hitch and Cara was safely unloaded and tied to the side of the trailer. We closed the door and untied Shaunti before letting him turn around to face the exit. Barb held his lead as I went to to open the door. I didn't realize that Shaunti had become nervous and turned himself around backwards. Before Barb could shout not to, I had opened the door. I watched in awe as my horse flung himself backwards and onto the ground at the foot of the trailer. He landed on his ass first, before rolling over on his back. All four legs were in the air, he neck cranked to the side. He leapt to his feet and shook himself off before turning to look at Barb, Cara and I. We all, including Cara, looked at him like, "What an idiot!". I swear he actually looked a little embarrassed. He hadn't moved a muscle since he had stood up. I walked over, picked up his lead rope and turned to walk away. I couldn't muster up the nerve to look behind me and see for myself if he was stepping soundly. I asked Barb, "Does he look alright?" She didn't answer at first. She watched him intently with a close eye, head tilted to one side.

After months and months of work and painstaking progress, had we seriously come this close to seeing our dreams become reality only to watch them come come crashing down in one dramatic fall?

To be continued.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Gone Camping!

I have been neglecting my blog! I had a very busy weekend and started this week off by going camping with my dearest friend and our two horses. I had the time of my life and am really looking forward to sharing it with you all. I have always dreamed of riding the open range of the Interior of British Columbia but could never have anticipated how spiritually fulfilling the experience would be. We rode through Canada's largest cattle ranch, the Douglas Lake Cattle Company and were able to get up close and personal with some of their beautiful Black Baldie steer. We covered miles of roads, trails and open range as we shared stories and absorbed the grandeur of our surroundings. I feel so incredibly blessed to be able to see my dreams become reality and to have such a great friend.

When I rescued my old ranch gelding last year I promised him that one day I would take him home to the range. Yesterday, I was able to make good on that vow. He paid me back by giving me one of the best rides I have ever had. While getting him to and from the camp grounds was not without event, he was amazing on the trail. I have never ridden a horse so sure footed, confident and happy to work. As he should be, it is what he was bred, born and raised to do!

More tomorrow....

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Proper Care and Feeding Of Husbands and Horses

I should preface today's post by saying that I am not married. At this point in my life, I have no plans to marry but I have lived with and been supported by my Darling Boyfriend (DB) for over seven years now. I am so incredibly blessed to have found this wonderful man! While he may grumble occasionally....or even daily about my "damn horses", he continues to support my equine addictions. He listens to my rants, my whining and loves when I come home from the barn with a big smile on my face and a story to tell. He is also my voice of reason when I get carried away, which I hate to admit, is often. While we do argue about something or another on a daily basis, we also make each other smile and laugh. He is my best friend and biggest fan.

Just as I read horse care books to learn how to become a better horsewoman, I also read books on how to be a better wife, despite being a mere "girlfriend". One of my favorites is a book called, "The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands" by Dr. Laura Schlessinger. Despite her rather offensive and persistent habit of calling me an "unpaid whore" or "shack up honey" (for living with a man out of wedlock! For shame, for shame!) I drew an enormous amount of personal enrichment from her book and her radio program. My own perspective on men, relationships, my family ideals and how I deal with issues have all been shaped by Dr. Laura in a positive respect. However archaic sounding the title of her book may be, it did help me build a better relationship and gave me a greater understanding of the needs of my DB. Taking time, being affectionate, complimentary and and nurturing, all lead to a higher level of intimacy. The basic premise of the book is that if you were to treat your husband the same way that you treated him when you were dating, you'd have a better marriage. When men feel loved and appreciated, they want to give their woman the world. Dr. Laura's prefaces her book by stating that the advice contained herein only applies to good men. I have a good man, so I took her words to heart and my relationship improved as a result. It also helped me understand why men do what they do. As with any horse training book, you take some and you leave some. I found that she belittles men by simplifying their needs and desires. In my experience, men are deep and complicated and I find it offensive to suggest otherwise. But I do agree that simple lovin' makes a good man better.

As for the proper care and feeding of my DB, all I can say is that I try. I like to bring him coffee and breakfast in bed almost every morning. My friends all scoff at this and tell me how I spoil him but they don't realize how much he spoils me in the return. I rarely cook dinner (though I do like too!) as he is always happy to take me out. I always joke that I could have any horse in the world after he has eaten my homemade lasagna! When I try to make him happy and go out of my way to be sweet, famine and tell him how good he looks or how much I appreciate him, he does the same. My man that tells me every single day that I am the most beautiful woman in the world. We support eachother. He lets me go crazy with my horses and I go with him to his marathons. I drive from point to point along the route to cheer him on and I always cry when he finishes a race. He is soo fast and strong! *grin*

One of my greatest frustrations in life is how often my passion for horses comes in the way of the proper care and feeding of my DB. My man is no cowboy. He is horribly allergic to horses! He cant come to barn with me or watch me ride. I have to change out of my barn clothes in the garage and take a shower as soon as I walk in the door of our home. Even then, it sometimes is not enough and he will physically suffer from my need to be around horses. I know that he would be much happier if my hobby was baseball or...I don't know, knitting! Something safe and clean! He does not support my habit because he like it, respects it or thinks that it is cool, quite the contrary. For the most part he doesn't "get it" and always worries about me getting hurt. It is not exactly a cheap hobby either! So why does he do it? Because it makes me a happy. Plain and simple. It is not just a hobby either, horses consume a large part of my life and therefore, his too. I don't know that it is always fair. Actually, I know that it is not. I spend more money and more time either with my horses or reading, talking, worrying and planning for them than is fair. It is not equitable. If the situation were reversed, I cant say that I would be as good about it as he is. I do try to compensate but not enough. I don't get why he puts up with all of my shenanigans!

Maybe it is that the same aspects of my personality that make me passionate about horses, also makes me a good girlfriend. I am a giver, a lover, and nurturer. I am patient (to an extent), compassionate and caring. I will always make sure that both my man and my horses legs feel good and that their belly is full. I take pride in having well cared for horses and a well cared for man. I wish that more women took the same pride. I am not perfect, not by a long shot. I dry my DB crazy! I can be pigheaded, demanding, selfish and rude. But I try not to be. Too often I see women that are abusive, mean and condescending to their husbands or boyfriends. They treat their men like dogs! These women would panic if their horses missed a meal but could care less when their men last ate. I am not saying that men cant find their own food but I think it matters that we care. I find it sad that it is politically incorrect for woman to take pride in properly caring for their men. Some openly admit or joke about caring more for their horses than they do for their husbands.

I try to balance my time at home with my time at the barn and make sure that if that balance swings to far to the horses in one day that I do something to compensate. If I have to get up early to go to a riding lesson and I know that I wont be home when my man gets ups, I will leave him coffee in a canister next to his bed and pancakes in the oven. I love the idea that he would wake up and know that I was thinking of him. I leave him a note and wish him a good day. Making the coffee, pancakes and writing a note takes less than ten minutes, the time it takes me to cold hose my horses legs after a hard ride! But it means the world to my DB. He pays me back in spades! I don't do it for the rewards, but damned if they are not sweet!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

I am Canadian!

I am a proud Canadian. One thing you may have heard about our fine country is that we like to drink beer and watch hokey. Okey, in truth, we drink a lot of beer and watch a lot of hockey. While one's team of choice may vary from province to province (that would be like from State to State, for all you Yankees (oh, yes, you are a Yankee!!...regardless if you are from the North or South states!)) A beer of choice may also vary from person to person but a very popular brand is, Molson's Canadian. Years ago they put out a commercial that became a sensation across the country. It featured a man standing on a stage with a huge Canadian flag behind him and giving this speech about being...well, Canadian!

Link to watch actual commercial:

I am Canadian!

Hey, I'm not a lumberjack, or a fur trader....
I don't live in an igloo or eat blubber, or own a dogsled....
and I don't know Jimmy, Sally or Suzy from Canada,
although I'm certain they're really really nice.

I have a Prime Minister, not a president.
I speak English and French, not American.
And I pronounce it 'about', not 'a boot'.

I can proudly sew my country's flag on my backpack.
I believe in peace keeping, not policing,
diversity, not assimilation,
and that the beaver is a truly proud and noble animal.
A toque is a hat, a chesterfield is a couch,
and it is pronounced 'zed' not 'zee', 'zed' !!!!

Canada is the second largest landmass!
The first nation of hockey!
and the best part of North America

My name is Joe!!
And I am Canadian!!!

I may not be as avid of a beer drinker or hockey fan as your average Canadian but I am no less proud of our fine heritage. As Canadian as beer and hockey may be, there is another quite essential aspect to Canadian culture that you all may not know about. As Canadian as the beaver and the lumberjack, Tim Horton's is a Canadian institution. In most every town, big and small across this grand country of ours, you will find a glowing red sign, as familiar to us as the golden arches, with Tim Hortons' written large and in cursive!

Tim Hortons is a coffee and doughnut restaurant that is similar to Dunkin Donuts in the States, except that they serve begals, sandwiches, breakfast muffins, tea, cappuccinos, soups and chilli's. Most Tim Horton's are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week and 365 days a year! There are nearly three thousand of these restaurants serving Canada's relatively small population of 33.3 million people! It just so happens that the name Tim Horton is that of a famous Canadian hockey player!...go figure! Double Double (term for two cream, two sugar), Ice Cap (blended cappuccino beverage) and Timbits (doughnut holes) are all Tim Horton products that are household names. We are crazy about our "Timmys"!! While I cant claim to be a hockey watcher or a beer drinker, I will admit that I usually go to "Timmy-Hoes" once a day...Oh, alright, sometimes twice!

As a matter of fact, my old Arab gelding, Rocky was used to scout locations for a Tim Hortons commercial that was to filmed in my home town. "....A true Tim Horton story", is their slogan, usually featuring real people's stories centered around the Tim Hortons product. This commercial was about how our local Tim Horton's had allowed the The Backcountry Horseman of BC to set up a hitching post outside the store so that the riders could go inside and enjoy a coffee on a rainy day (which there are plenty of in BC!). I had used the hitching post myself a time or two, it was handy to have available if you were out for a long ride and wanted to stop for a rest or use the washroom but for the most part, I was too lazy to get off my horse to go in to get a coffee. Rocky and I would simply ride on up to the drive-thru (waiting in line if necessary). My town just happens to be on route to a major tourist attraction and so in the summer massive buses, packed to the gill with Japanese tourists, would be unloaded and ushered inside to get a snack and use the facilities. Each would stop on their way in to take a picture of a girl on a horse standing in the drive-thru. Rocky loved it because the ladies at the window would usually give him an Apple Fritter or something sweet. I am sure that there are hundreds of pictures across Eastern Europe of Rocky and I but I am sad to say that I don't have one. I did find a picture of two mounted police going through! Which I am sure is not uncommon. If you ever have any trouble and need to find a cop in a hurry, just head down to your local Timmys and you are bound to find one or two. I am not kidding! Did you know that there is even a Tim Hortons in Afghanistan for our Canadian Peace Keepers!

I love being Canadian and feel blessed to call this wonderful country home. Beautiful British Columbia's slogan is "the best place on earth!" As true of a statement as any! While we enjoy the natural splendor of this amazing country, we also enjoy watching "Hockey Night In Canada" with good friend and plenty of cold beer. But nothing beats a hot cup of Tim Hortons coffee on a cold Canadian morning. I am sure that it will continue to be an time honored Canadian tradition! Now, I am headed out for some Timbits and a Double Double!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Pitt Bulls

Yesterday morning I came up the driveway to find a black Pitt Bull trotting around my front yard. He looked quite young and still had the gangly look of an older puppy but he was clearly an intact male. The slightly glazed over look to his eye and his purposeful way of sniffing the ground as he trotted along told me that he was a virile young dog on the hunt for a girlfriend. I was concerned that one of my cats (who thinks that all dogs are friendly) might be outside and so quickly tried to assess his temperament before getting out of my truck to catch him. I rolled down the window and cooed to him, "What are yooou doing, sweeet little puppy booo!" His ear laid flat against his head and his tail scooted under as he lobbed his way over to my truck door. I tentatively reached out a fisted hand towards his nose and he immediately scooted his bum closer, licking madly away at my fingers. I had only planned on opening the door a few inches but he wedged his head inside smiled up at me, panting madly away. I patted my lap and he nimbly jumped up and over to the passenger seat. His manner was that of a sweet, goofy pup, thirsty and a little scared at where he had found himself.

I drove up the drive and managed to get him into the kennel without event. I breathed a sigh of relief that my cat was safe and that this sweet pup was off the street. I went in the house to phone animal control and came back out to find him relaxing in the shade. He no longer looked distressed and was eager for attention when I went in to give him some love. Animal control arrived to pick him up and I had the opportunity to talk to the friendly and no-nonsense lady that has run the local shelter here for the past 10 years. I had spoken with her many times in the past, when picking up my licences and had even rescued a dog from her facility. We had a very interesting conversation about the Pitt Bull breed and of her experiences with them and the other various breeds of dogs she has picked up over the years.

My town's Animal Control has only ever had 3 Pitties come in that were vicious towards people but had many other unsuspecting breeds that were dangerous. Almost all the Pitties were extremely friendly and loving dogs that went on to make excellent pets. She did say that this breed was developed over hundreds of years to fight other dogs and that a lot Pitties are dog aggressive. This is inherent in the breed. Other breeds were developed to be aggressive towards people and were selectively bred to be protective of person and property. In her opinion, no one breed is a problem, and most certainly not Pitt Bulls. The problem lies in the lack of responsibility of dog owners, the "cool" factor of owning fighting breeds among the young adult population and the fact that any large and strong breed dog is effectively a loaded weapon with no safety. Most dogs, big and small do bite in their lifetime. Personally I have only been been bitten by a large dog once before but have been bitten countless times by so called "ankle bitters". The problem is that larger dogs can not afford to bite even one time in their entire lifetime. What do you think would happen if ever Chihuahua that ever bit was put down? The breed would be extinct!

This morning I was headed out to the barn and caught a radio program that discussed current events and new issues. They were discussing a Pitt Bull attack that had happened last week and the governments discussion of putting a Pitt Bull breed ban in place as other provinces on the East Coast have already. The call back responses were varied, some heavily for and others against, each able to provide statistics to back their positions. The hosts were also able to give some stats that I found interesting. In our province the number one breed for bites reported in a year was by Golden Retrievers! Pitt Bulls didn't even make the Top 5 list. In Ontario a Pitt Bull ban was put in place in 2005 and there has been a 40% increase in the number of reported dog bites. The argument was that while Pitt Bills might not be as likely to bite as other breeds, the damage that they inflict when they do so is far more severe. I am sure that we have all heard any number of arguments for or against, some rooted in fiction, others in fact. The bottom line remains that Pitt Bull "attacks" continue to make the news.

Here is my two bits. Banning Pitt Bulls will do nothing to solve the problem. Ever heard of a Dogo Argentino? A Tosa? Presa Canaro? These dogs make Pitt Bulls look like poodles. How about a Shar Pei (wrinkle dog)? Or a Boxer? Both were developed as a "fighting breed". Did you know that Rottweilers were developed as herding dogs? Any dog with a bite big enough can kill. There are too many breeds to list, let alone ban. Criminals do not live by the rules of the law, as demonstrated in Canada's failed Gun Registry program. Responsible dog ownership is the answer. If you have a dog at large, make the owners hurt where it counts with heavy fines. If a dog bites a person, make their owners pay, big time! If they don't have the $$, have their property seized or jail time served. Make owning viscous dogs a liability! Lay criminal charges against people that fail to contain or guard the public against their animals. Impose REPERCUSSIONS that make people think, act, socialize and train their dogs!

My DB and I owned two Rhodesian Ridgbacks (a hunting breed) that would absolutely bite anyone that posed a threat to their family. They lived to be eleven years old and never once had the opportunity to unwarrantably bite a person and were contained, well socialized and friendly in public places. They were a massive responsibility and required an extremely diligent owner, as does every dog with "stopping ability" (the physical ability to bite or stop a human.) There are clubs all over the country for people with protection trained dogs that rarely, if ever pose a threat to the community because their owners are responsible and their dogs are trained. Personally, I would not buy a Pitt Bull or any other breed that was bred for fighting. I appreciate dogs that were selectively bred for trainability, athleticism and temperament. There you have it, my two bits!

Friday, August 8, 2008

Food Porn

I really don't know why I feel the need to use this blog as a confessional! I am not, nor have I ever been Catholic, I suffer no guilt in not testifying my transgressions! Nonetheless, here you will find, yet another. My sin? Food. I love food....with a capital "L". Fruit, veggies, pasta, bread, cheese and chocolate....mmm....chocolate. I don't like mushrooms or mustard but everything else is fair game! God gave me a passion for good food. He threw in the tendency to get fat for shits and giggles. This baby's got back, let me tell you! There has not been a single day since I hit puberty that I have not worried about food or my weight. I have had a long and rocky, love/hate relationship with food for as long as I can remember. But for the past year I have been working hard to change the dynamics of how I see and relate to it. My health depends on me doing so. I had to learn to put vanity aside. My heart, literally and figuratively, was suffering as a result of years of obesity, binge eating, starving, and dieting. I came to understand that my weight was no longer about how I looked, but instead, a reflection of how I felt.

Being fat effects so many aspects of your life. I do not go to beaches in fear of wearing a swimsuit and I love to swim but wont go to the public pool for the same reason. I avoid social occasions where I may see people that last knew me as slim or smaller than I am now. I perpetually put off doing things and going places, waiting to be a few sizes smaller. My "Bucket List" is long. I've dreamed of going to Paris for years but I want to wait till I can shop in all the designer stores. I want to swim The Reef in Australia and hike the West Coast Trail but am not physically fit enough to do so. Not to mention the impact my weight has had on my relationship. Sensuality is born of confidence and security in ones self. I have examined all of the many repercussions of being fat, at length, and decided to made a change.

Firstly I had to change the way I feel. As a woman, I am all about feelings! I needed to stop viewing my body as an enemy and start appreciating and nurturing it. I have forever hated my legs. They are short and thick. I needed to see them as strong and powerful. I no longer see myself as short, but as petite and feminine. My shoulders are broad and my hips wide, but these things simply make my waist look smaller. Everything is a matter of perspective. I stopped sucking in my cheeks and belly when looking in the mirror or making fun of myself all the time. A good friend of mine taught me to say, "thank you" when someone pays you a compliment rather than denying their observations. I didn't loose weight at first, but I stopped FEELING fat. Right now, I feel like a strong, healthy and slim woman- inside. Once I was able to change how I felt internally, I started to change the way I looked externally. I read a book called, "French Women Don't Get Fat". I highly recommend that everyone, young and old, fat or fit, read this book. As a Canadian from the West Coast I will admit to being prejudice towards all things French (of the Canadien variety or otherwise), but when I put aside my defensiveness, I learned that French woman really do have something to teach the Western world...or at least this book does. Here are a few of my favorite tips:

-French woman usually think of good things to eat while American woman worry about bad foods to eat.

-they do not eat "sugar-free" or "fat-free", instead they eat the real thing, in moderation

-they eat with all five sense, allowing less to seem like more.

-balance your food, drink and movement on a week by week basis. (don't worry if you have a bad day, just eat less and work harder tomorrow.)

-never let yourself be hungry and never let yourself get full.

-drink water, all day long.

-little things count, both additions and subtractions.

-move as much as possible (walk to the store, take the stairs etc.)

-don't diet

-love, eat and laugh

Lastly, the author suggests, "French woman dress to take out the garbage, (you never know.)" Today, I would have been well served had I taken this last recommendation to heart. It seems that all my walks down memory lane this past week attracted the cosmos to my cause. I went out for eggs this morning in a ratty old pair of jeans, t-shirt and my hair a mess, without a drop of makeup....oh, and a little mascara under my eyes for good measure. In seven years of living in this town I have not come across any of my old flames. Not one. You better believe that on this day, looking like hell, I run into my first love at the market. Isnt it funny, how life is like that? When you think of someone for the first time in years and then run into them soon after? Damn that Murphy and his laws.

And on to food porn we go! It is not as kinky as it sounds, I promise. My favorite star? Paula Dean. That woman loves butter like none other! Today, she actually deep fried cheese cake! Seriously. I love to watch the food channel. I call my favorite shows, "food porn." I lust over all the food that they eat- that I cant. I drool over their caramel fudge cakes and pot roast dinners! I like to imagine that I am there with them, eating that delicious food too! I watch in awe as they make succulent dishes and divine desserts! *sigh* I love Paul Dean, Anna Olsen, Bobby Flay.... Oh! And I'd marry Mario Batali.

My relationship with food has evolved. I am loosing weight and carry myself with a new found confidence (with the minor exception of being caught poorly dressed and haggard looking by an ex!) I love food but I love living life even more! Cheers!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Skinny Dipping

I went skinny dipping yesterday! Well in a sense I did. There was nothing "skinny" about the dipping that I did. I guess you could call it "chubby dipping", but then the connotation of that would imply something of an entirely different nature. Do you ever feel overwhelmed with the need to do something crazy? To just let yourself go? I do. As Goose and Maverick (Top Gun) would say, "I feel the need, the need for speed!" Perhaps it has something to do with the walk I took down memory lane this past week. Something about the contrast of who I was vs who I am, barbed me. Am I getting old and settled before my time? Rebellion has become a long lost feeling that I hadn't even realized I missed it. So I let go. And I went skinny dipping in broad daylight.

It was 33 degrees Celsius yesterday, muggy as all hell and I am not a heat person. I had just spent three hours at the barn with the farrier and had that heavy legged and light headed feeling that precursors heat stroke. I had planned on riding but gave up on that idea in the first half hour so I simply did my chores and headed home. I walked in the door to discover that my house had become a sauna. Opening every door and window and turning on every fan failed to make a dent in such stagnant heat. My big Cattle dog, Hawk (Hawkeydog) was sprawled on the kitchen floor panting. He gave me "the look" like I had better get him the hell out of the house or else. I didn't even bother to change my cloths, I just grabbed a bottle of water, my dog and a magazine and jumped in the truck. We went for a ride with the windows down and the music turned up loud. With my long dark hair whipping madly around my face, I played with the curves of a windy road and pushed the speed limit. I felt ridiculously wild and reckless. I was headed for the river.

My home town lies at the foot of an ocean sound and is surrounded in snow topped granite mountains. An abundance of creeks and streams lace the valley, each a tributary to a large river that flows in to the salty waters of the Pacific. To me, any flowing body of water with high mountain walls, feels like home. The river is, and has always been, a piece of my soul. In troubled times, when I seek to find peace within myself, the sound of rushing water centres me.

For the past few years, I stopped going to the river. I don't hike alone anymore and no longer walk my neighborhood at night. Some would argue, and I would have to agree, that I finally came to my senses and developed a respect and concern for my personal safety. I use to spend a lot of time alone in the woods, on foot or horseback, which was a going concern for my friends and family. I understood the risks but felt that living was more important that dying. I also had two dogs that were protection trained and provided all the security I needed to feel safe, at least against threats of the human variety. Looking back, I realize that I stopped going into the bush soon after I lost them. A few close calls had put the fear of God into me so that a feeling of vulnerability slowly overwhelmed the enjoyment and peace of mind I use to draw from my time alone in the woods. There was never a definitive moment where I decided to end my little excursions or "walk abouts", as Mick Dundee would say. Actually, I am guilty of letting things go unexamined in more than one area of my life. There are a few pairs of jeans in my closet that have not fit me in years, yet I haven't thrown them away and I cant remember ever admitting at a specific time that they had become to small. I simply stopped wearing them. Socrates said, "The unexamined life is not worth living." Hmm....

So.... Yesterday I took a long walk in the woods, alone. Hawky and I found the river a quarter of it usual size, its rocky bottom lay barren and exposed. A little stream of water weaved its way back and forth, from bank to bank, rippling over the rocks and setting alight a million sparkles in the late afternoon sun. I followed the river bed up a valley of tall Cedar trees and deep into the woods. I couldn't place what exactly it was that I was looking for but something compelled me to continue onward. With ever passing step, I found myself more alone and more connected to vast forest around me. At a narrow and high banked cut of the river I found a large boulder sitting in a deep pool of water. As I stopped to admire this beautiful and idyllic spot, I realized that I had found what it was that I had been looking for. Peace.

The water was so clear that I could see every stone and pebble under its surface. I sat down on a large hot stone and let my legs dangle in the cool current. The bed of river rocks radiated heat and the air hung heavily around me. The water looked so crisp, cool and inviting. I slipped off my light cotton leggings and stepped in to the pool. As I kneeled on the sandy bottom, the cold water touched my waist, my breath came short, and ripple of goose flesh ran up my arms. All my inhibitions were laid aside as I was seduced by the welcome relief of cool water on hot bare flesh. I pulled off my remaining clothes, one by one, and lay myself length wise into the current. With the pull of the water on my hair and my body floating weightlessly in the sun, I felt like a nymph or wild fairy, something inhuman and feral. I inhaled my surroundings, the brimstone sent of wet rocks, the hum of insects in the wood and the perpetual rustle of a soft wind flowing through the Cedars. After a time, I became cold and crawled out to lay myself on a hot, flat boulder. The late summer sun warmed and dried my body as I daydreamed. I walked back to the truck in a stupor, leaving the river behind me.

I drove home slowly, with the windows down and the wind in my hair, at peace.


****Pictured at top is a photo of myself at seventeen hiking in the backcountry. The lower picture is of Hawky at the river I went to yesterday.****