So instead of hawking I grabbed by black horse. I brushed him off, picked his feet, tacked him up and headed up the trails we know so well. It has been weeks since I have ridden him. The land I have permission to trail ride on was lousy with deer hunters for weeks and the land owners requested I not ride there during that time. No arguments from me. I didn't fancy being mistaken for the large buck in the brush and I didn't need to know what it would be like to be on Merlin's back when a gunshot fired within range. I cut that trail a wide berth for weeks, only riding Merlin up and down the paved road. Paved roads are okay, but it's the woods I crave when I'm with him.
We rode today like old dancing partners. Up the trails and across streams. We jumped over fallen logs and galloped across the fields. I saw the big female red tail on the highest bluff. She took off from a tree above us, screamed out her call, and beat her heavy owl wings to the north. I waved. I named her Huginn and have caught her once a few years ago when I started out as falconer. I remember how large and beautiful she was, her perfect eyes and red tail. I let her go like fireworks from my hands and instead of flying off like some end scene from a movie about to roll the credits, she just flew twenty feet to the ground and turned around to look at me. She had no idea what to think of the big primate that tricked her, caught her, and let her go. She flew off after that and we haven't dated since. She looked great today, though. I meant that wave.
While riding Merlin I noted the places with the most active game and squirrel nests in the trees. I watched the grass (yes, grass in Christmas in the Southern Adirondacks) and the places where rabbit, coyote, and bear scat littered about. I took notes to not hunt with Anna on this mountain if it's Huginn's time to use it. I didn't want Anna to be killed in 30 seconds by that pterosaur.
It had been a lovely holiday. The night before I had a ham dinner with Tara and Tyler at their off-grid home in Vermont. We stayed up late watching movies, talking, eating, enjoying each other's company. I drove home in the truck I have fallen deeply in love with under the full moon. I was excited about Christmas, maybe the most I have been excited since I was a child. Not because of presents or parties but because I knew there was a dark horse and a broad winged hawk waiting for me. Because I had left a warm home of friends I loved. Because I felt lucky, dammit.
And now I am going to get Anna, sit down in my under-stuffed chair that came with this house when I bought it, and watch a movie. Friday is chewing on rawhide. Annie is asleep on a sheepskin on the floor. Gibson is curled up at my feet as I type this (always by my side) and that horse has long since been set loose in the pasture with his flock of woolies. I am ready for a glass of mead and a well-earned rest. Tomorrow is a day of design, writing, and coding but tonight...
All is calm. All is bright.