Tuesday, August 28, 2012

ride on

When I left the farm astride Merlin, the sun was starting to yawn and the world was bathed in yellow light. October Light. It is already here and as my black horse's feathered feet trotted along my winding road I closed my eyes and took in a deep breath. These are the last deep breathes of summer. Soon the smells of cut grass, sweat, bug spray, and grilling meats from neighbor's barbecues will be replaced by crisp inhalations of wood smoke and dead leaves. I turned Merlin up towards the dirt road that leads us on a 4-mile round trip through forest, field, and streamside. Back home there was a loaf of wheat bread on it's first rise in a pyrex bowl and a stainless steel saucepan of raw goats milk turning into chevre. I am only getting a half gallon every 36-hours now but it is enough to keep me in cold cereal and cheese. I think Bonita will be bred in September and so will Francis. I think about the logistics of this as the trail gets steeper. Without thinking my body leans forward with my horse's upward climb. The steep road levels out and I lean back. These motions are now as normal and thoughtless as putting on pants.

Merlin doesn't want to go up the steepest part of the dirt road and I know him, and me, well enough to handle his fit. He stops and turns around to trot home and I tsk tsk and smile. In a split second I loosen my right rein, pull in my left gently and spin him in three circles until he stops on his own. I turn him uphill and offer my heal and loosen the reins. He doesn't budge, just turns back around to go to the farm. I spin him again and this time loosen the reins when we're facing uphill and kick the same moment. I use the over/under rope on his horn after he bawks again. It has a piece of rawhide on the end and its a light flick back to his rump and he canters up the steep dirt slope. He has learned, finally, I am more stubborn than he is.

We burst out of the forested road to a bald of grass open and flecked with does. Merlin doesn't care about the deer, he canters past them. Up and up the mountain until we can spin around and take in the last of the green around us. I can see Cambridge, the mountains, Vermont. I try to remember the girl in the dressage show in May, so scared in a small arena. So intimidated by fear. I sat tall in the stock saddle, wind in my hair, my straw hat tight on my head and neck-reined Merlin up the trail. We have come so far in a single endless summer. I no longer fear this horse. We have become a team.

Fall is coming.
Crows are flying.
Black horses are running uphill.
Things are healing.


Blogger Amy said...

Beautiful post, I felt the wind on my face too! Let's hear it for Fall, I'm in Chicago and although we are still having hot days, we are also getting the blissfully cool nights and I definately feel Fall's breath whispering our way. Pumpkins, woodsmoke, leaves, geese flying... Ahhhh can't wait.

August 28, 2012 at 11:05 PM  
Blogger Rosie said...

High five! Woot! Woot!

August 28, 2012 at 11:12 PM  
Blogger brokenteepee said...

February kids? Brrrrr

August 28, 2012 at 11:54 PM  
Blogger The Kelly's Adventures in KY said...

Loved reading this Jenna! Thanks for sharing. You took me along in your ride.

August 29, 2012 at 7:04 AM  
Blogger PattyW said...

Beautiful writing -Love and proud of you! I am aching to share the trail.

August 29, 2012 at 8:39 AM  
Blogger Kelly said...

Love your stories ♥

August 29, 2012 at 9:41 AM  
Blogger Patti said...

A lovely homage to summer. Your writing is inspirational. Such a neat picture of you on your black horse. Thanks Jenna!

August 29, 2012 at 9:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh how I wish it fall were coming here, too! In Austin, temperatures are still regularly above 95, and cool breezes are just a wish! I always feel refreshed after reading about your morning rides....or anytime you're outdoors, really. I'd love to visit your part of the country for some Autumn.

August 29, 2012 at 10:36 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

It was such a joy getting to spend a little time with Merlin and Jasper over the weekend. I will always be a horse person even though there are none in my life at the moment. Having had all of our horses til the very last day of their lives, the end of my 'horse life' was filled with grief and sadness. I ache to hear them in the barn, rustling in the hay, to see them galloping around the pasture, rolling in the wet grass or mud. It's like a wound that just won't heal. I'm crying as I write this. Spending time with your equine family really bumped me along the road to healing...just feeling their hot breath on my hand and face, their soft lips trying to make sure they got every last crumb off my palm and those eyes...the kind you can get lost in. Thank you for sharing your home, your life, your talent and your critters with me this weekend. It. Was. AWESOME!!! Hugs, Wendy :)

August 29, 2012 at 11:28 AM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Hi Jenna.
I am glad that you have progressed so much in your confidence with Merlin - good for you!

I realize it is completely your choice, but I would love to see you swap your straw hat for your helmet. I respect your choice but I would HATE to see you get injured...
Lisa in Maine

August 29, 2012 at 8:56 PM  
Blogger downeast becka said...

can i just say...kudos! lot of work you have done, just reading this post makes my intensely emotional day (harvesting, cheesemaking, equine therapy, all good farm stuff eclipsed by the almost 10 year olds' raging and anxiety) fade into just the work we do to be in this world. Thanks

August 30, 2012 at 9:00 PM  
Blogger Lindy and Paul said...

There is nothing like being on a lovely trail alone with your horse, you expressed it so beautifully, as always :) Glad it is all working out with Merlin, you have really worked for it!

August 31, 2012 at 10:52 AM  
Anonymous Ruralaspirations said...

Fall is my absolute favorite time to ride. I'm so pleased to see how confident you and Merlin have become, and how well you are working together. I share Lisa's concern about you not wearing a helmet, however. You have animals who depend on you to stay safe for them...i hate sounding like a nagging old mama, but I've grown so fond of your plucky spirit and all you've accomplished. Head injuries happen, no matter how experienced the rider. Okay, I swear I will not say any more on that. :-)

Hooray for autumn!

September 2, 2012 at 7:11 PM  

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