Friday, October 5, 2018

A Little Better

The house smells like wood smoke and so do I. I just lit a fire in the stove and while playing with the flue rigging smoke got into my face and hair; adding the aroma of a campfire to the sweat and horse perfume I am certain the dogs could already pick up on. It has been a day of hiking and horses and now the lows are going to reach the thirties tonight and so there's a fire. A few weeks ago the stove was out of service and there was no wood here yet, but now things are a little better.

 This morning I knew the news would be hard and scary - so I took the day off of emails and freelance work. A few days of rain in the forecast will make sure I spend the weekend working, but today was beautiful and bright and what is the point of being self employed if you don't get to pick your vacation time or mental health days. So instead of following Twitter news about politics I headed back to Merck Forest to hike up to Mount Antone. I planned the summit hike to take the same amount of time it took before, about four hours. But it took us two and a half instead. I felt like I was flying up those switchbacks and Friday had more energy than ever before. A few months ago we needed to stop and take breaks every quarter mile and my body ached, but now things are a little better.

When I got home from the Vermont mountains I went riding on my own. I tacked up my mare and my friend Patty trailered hers over to join us. She rode her Ruby and I was on my Mabel. Together we explored the trails and fields my neighbor Tucker lets me share for horses and hunting. Mabel was a little punchy and she wasn't thrilled leaving Merlin behind. At a few moments she crow hopped and once she wanted to bolt towards home but I was able to stay calm and control her. What could have been a scary ride was cushioned by the insurance of experience. A few years ago a 16h horse throwing attitude would have me jumping out of the saddle afraid, but now things are a little better.

I have shotgun recoil bruises on my shoulder. After days of trekking through the woods on morning hunts with no luck I finally came home with a full game bag. Into the freezer went three squirrels and a rabbit, food for my hawk who is almost ready to hunt beside me again. The hiking has also made time hunting go easier,  my body is in better shape to move fast and erratically through the woods when it needs to. I am rarely out of breath like I was last season. Running is wonderful but hiking gets you into the kind of shape a stalking hunter needs. I am grateful to the animals that are becoming winter food stores for my bird. A lifetime ago there was no notion of hunting besides a trained hawk as snow starts to welcome winter, but now things are a little better.

We spend so much time comparing ourselves to others. I know I do. But what a foolish way for any of us to judge our happiness. There are so many better businesses, writers, homesteads, hikers, riders, and hunters than me. Countless more attractive, intelligent, and experienced people. I know that. I can spend thirty seconds on Instagram and confirm it. But you know what? When I compare myself today to who I was a few weeks, months, years, or a lifetime earlier.... I am a little better. And I am going to give myself the kindness tonight to be proud of that. I hope you will do the same for yourselves.