A Day in the life
By Loston Times
This time of year in particular for me and the few weeks prior; quickly turned in stark contrast from the pace I operate in winter. As much as I try to keep some balance, the work that is my livelihood at present going full boar, the weight of the dreaded “to do” list and the insistent want and need to enjoy the warm weather; I unavoidably end up living in work hard, play hard and sleep hard! The ever-growing full and vibrant days of spring though long in the moment pass with incredible speed. Making the turn into summer, days off from work seem less like days off, filled with any number of pressing and sometimes coarse labors. I am not one to complain much as this is the life I have chosen and the work that goes with living on a small farm. Trying to have it all I often let myself go way beyond exhaustion. Trying not to think in that state what I might be missing as days and weeks go bye leaving “I wish” under breathe. Oddly wrapped by circumstance and timing, when it seemed I really needed it, a very fine day came along. Whether you would choose to describe it as the ebb and flow, chance or luck, perhaps you might say that the grace of god presents you with a wonderful gift showing the work is all so worth it! As equally important, can we get out of our own way enough to receive it?
I awoke and crawled out of bed as early as I could muster. I felt surprisingly rested compared to most mornings of late. What was simply the result of three days of heavy rain that chased me out of the garden and kept me off the lawn tractor. Before my waking eyes, the morning appeared to be more of the same gray skies and rain. I remember the deep breathe of dread as I began to gear up for my morning job knowing what awaits me is mud! In the mornings, I work at a nearby horse farm, something I have grown very fond of over the past few years. In essence, it is a breeding farm for racehorses, harness horses to be exact. Thinking a bit of rain might add a nice dynamic and as I often do; I grabbed my camera before leaving. There was one baby out of the four we have this year of which I did not get pictures. As I made my way to the farm located on a hilltop nearby I was taken back. Something was very different waking all my senses and stirring up profoundly surreal feelings. I had arrived to thick fog, rain was now an elegant mist that almost seemed to float in suspension as it swirled and drifted by ever so slowly. As I made my way to the barn and before entering I paused; turned for another look around whispering aloud to myself “I’m standing in a cloud right now!“
I entered the barn and as usual, greeted by knickers and long faces; a welcome sight as the ever-friendly food guy! I gathered the grain and as it has become our way I turned the radio to NPR for the classical music. With my head still seemingly on a swivel I began working my way on the hilltop from horse to horse, pasture to pasture. It did not take very long and again becoming overwhelmed and lost with wonderment, millions of white-silver sparkles! Everywhere I could lay eyes, every blade of grass, every wildflower covered in tiny droplets. Moments later from the truck a brief description and the inspiration for the music was the “moonflower clock” or Horologium Florae. A concept out of the mid 18th century that one in theory can actually tell the time of day by watching the blooms of certain types of flowers. It widened my inner smile as I was photographing the arrival and first glimpse of tall red clovers. With so much visual input abound I completely lost any concept of time and I eventually made to the last pasture with mares and babies. With my camera in tow, I fed them breakfast and sat in the wet grass watching them graze. They took breaks to come say hi and at times all surrounding me. It was as they always patiently wait for, simply to live with them in moment! If you ask me it was not the cleverness of man that was first responsible for the domestication of horses; they were gifts and seem to know just what you need! I always look at them with great admiration and never forget how our pairing changed the world forever. Especially in regards to trade, the spread of language and culture. It is one of the great joys in my life and I feel so fortunate that I get to spend days among “angel horses.”
I returned home around mid-day feeling quite full and remember thinking to myself “wow,” “what is this?” “Free time!” Based on what I had seen earlier it did not take but a few moments to decide that going out hiking might be just the thing to do. I had been noticing the change occurring daily. The successive waves of spring flowers giving way to the summer flora; buttercups, wild geraniums and blue eyed grass with the eye-catching phlox appearing just days before. Hours and hours seemed to drift bye as I only managed a few feet at a time between stops to take pictures. There was no real plan for direction in my movement through the marshes and meadows; just following the splashes of color from one to another and on until nearly sunset. I had worked my way out of the rain soaked marsh and was now walking along the stream bank. In roughly five hours, I had not made it more than a couple hundred yards from my house and stopped again when I came to a growth of yellow flag irises. As a good student of Nature, I knew right away that these unlike the blue flag are not a native species but one that was introduced from Europe. It has since escaped cultivation and continues to spread gaining a little more habitat than it had previously. I was having a “thought conversation” with this plant wondering where and how far it traveled. Most of all simply noticing how beautiful when all was suddenly bathed in golden light! The sky and grey clouds which were ever present for days broke away drawing my attention west in the direction of home. Soaking wet; my camera battery as spent as I was I made the turn towards home eyeing up the shortest route possible.
I walked about five paces before being cut off by the steep stream bank and thicket. I changed course slightly following the next possible way around when I came to an enormous thorn bush. Again there was something in my way, I could either go back the way I came or push through risking the uncomfortable sting. As if being called it didn’t take but a moment I moved forward ever careful placing my fingers between thorns moving branches. With contorted and less than graceful movements I found myself on the other side completely unscathed saying “I bet I couldn’t do that again!” Gathering myself up and moving a few steps I was again stopped dead in my tracks as my eyes lifted from the ground in front of me to meet a rather curios set of eyes peering out of a hole dug into the soft silt bank. An instant gasp led to chills, I had found myself in the nursery surrounding a grey fox den. I crouched down; careful not to move fast as the kit emerged from the hollow. It seemed more curious than anything but unsure of me, taking steps forward and then moving back. It moved back into the hole, seconds later reappearing with another. After a few minutes they decided I was ok and attention turned to play. I watched and took pictures as the two of them wrestled, biting each others ears and chewing on twigs. Then the game was chase, around and back into the den. In their absence I moved a little closer and it wasn’t long before they were back to see if I was still there. Much to my delight now there were four of them! I watched on taking pictures and soaking up every second of it. The first kit seemed to be the most brave and curious of me, often approaching within three feet or so before dropping its head and moving back. Sitting so long in the same position both of my legs grew uncomfortably numb, still I didn’t move. After a good long while it suddenly dawned on me that I hadn’t at all thought about where their mom might be. Right at that moment I turned my head slightly towards the stream and there she was; sitting only ten feet away. As our eyes locked I got the feeling she was watching the entire time. I raised my camera to take her picture but the battery had died somewhere in the moments before, I looked back up and she was gone. With that and twilight drawing near I felt it was time for me to move on.
Walking in the direction of home I glanced a final time back towards the den thinking about how the adult female accepted my presence, seemingly so proud and never tried to draw my attention away from the kits. She has become one of my “familiars” but it was touching she made me feel like I might be one of hers. Looking around as I walked something again caught my eye. In the distance with last glint of golden light I watched as a whitetail deer lead her young fawn across the Choconut Creek for the first time. Every step a new experience, every splash in the deep water raising uncertainty and there was mom circling back reassuring, waiting patiently urging the baby on until it crossed splashing with highest steps it could mange. In what seemed like mere seconds the sun fell behind the horizon bringing daytime to a close.
This remarkable day, brimming with experience and beauty was June 1st. That special time of year when the spring babies that had been tucked away venture out to meet the world around them. I am very much in awe still of a day that was so long traveled through time and place; despite the fact I never really left home. “A walk among the clouds” reaching far into antiquity with the pairing of man and horse to “a hole in the ground” and the day’s resonating theme of the bond shared by mothers, sons and daughters; and of teachers. As far as getting out of my own way, I learned some years ago that it takes practice to quiet the mind and trust the heart to lead. Sometimes we have to try several paths and push through the bramble to get where we’re supposed to be! It doesn’t change the fact that tomorrow might bring something entirely different pulling us far and away; all the while the bedrock grace is waiting for us to come back. The photographs speak volumes about the day but I feel it was truly about what is on the other side of the lens; an open and enchanted heart! If I were to take something special from my daily observations of the plants and animals I share my home with; some far travelers others born to it but all simply live to be in the world but not of it! There was a tiny flower encountered that day which really appealed to my Virgo nature. Light blue with a center of gold, the true forget-me-not. If I was so humbly permitted to share and give voice to our conversation on this day in the life… it would read
“Forget me not for I was only gifted mere moments”
“Forget not the art is in living rightly”
“Forget not the transient nature of life”
“Forget not that blessed be the tie that binds”