Thursday, July 10, 2014

It's Not About The View (well, maybe a little)

This morning I was riding through the forest on Juneau, looking around at the trees and the dust motes Lou was kicking up and breathing in the coolish air. It occurred to me that a good trail ride doesn't need a view or even a destination.

It just needs to be.

Which has been happening a lot this summer. Although I will say that many of my rides have had splendid views, such as these...

Looking toward the Sisters and Broken Top 

In the Ochocos

But mostly there have been moments of serenity, contemplation and fellowship. Being a quiet sort of person, I love the first two. But the sweetest memories have been made knowing there are others who are going to share the same recollection.

Many of those rides have taken place in a wonderland of trails just across the road from the ranch. I'm marveling that I've worked and ridden from here for 12 years and am only now discovering these trails. Which, incidentally were made by dirt bikers. I think most of them have grown up and left home or maybe they are out there on the weekends or when its cooler or sometime but I haven't seen another soul out there so far.

Its been fun getting familiar with the area. Noticing this rock or that tree and figuring out which direction is home. Although the horses always know.

Every time I saddle up I'm grateful. I feel stronger and more flexible that ever before, kind of like the anti-Humpty Dumpty. All the King's horses (well, two of them) and all the King's (wo)men could put Humpty together again!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

The Jar Journal

This year, oh wait, I mean last year, we started something I'd seen on a Facebook post (probably from  Pinterest because it seems there is nothing original in the world any more.) For lack of a better term I'm calling it the Jar Journal. It's a plain jar that sits on the counter with a pad of paper and pens nearby, waiting for you or me or anyone to jot down something worth remembering about any particular day. If you're really diligent, the jar is stuffed full by the end of the year when you tip it all out and read the notes.

Well, we weren't all that diligent and we forgot last night (New Year's Eve) to read them, but this morning I pulled out the notes to get the fuzzy glimpse of our year that we managed to capture.

Imagine my surprise when I read this one...

The date was the day of my accident, when my mule threw me off and  ran bucking down the trail toward Highway 20, leaving me lying there with a broken back and tailbone and, six fractured ribs and one severely shattered dream. I certainly wasn't heaping blessings on his or anyone's head at that moment. Or for many moments afterward. I have to confess that I wasn't calling on Jesus or his angels either, but I'm pretty sure someone was, the way things turned out in the end.

Now, I don't remember if I wrote that note in the morning before leaving on the ride, all excited because it was my first ride out with friends on the mule and I was anticipating a long and happy partnership. Or if I backdated it after all was said and done and fixed and the damn mule was off the property.

At any rate, after thinking about it for a while I realized that date really was the beginning of many, many blessings.

I belong to a small but active Rotary club and was looking forward to becoming its president in the summer. When my husband called someone to tell them what happened, the club members rallied around, bringing meals, visiting and keeping me up to date with club activities. I'd never been the recipient of that kind of caring - we've had a fairly drama-free life- and it was lovely, a blessing. Perhaps they were concerned that all the training I'd had to become prez might be for naught if I didn't recover smartly. I say that with a smile, and as it turned out, I was able to stand up and lead the meetings right on time in July. I don't actually remember much about those early meetings - there was still a lot of recovery going on but at least I was off the pain meds!

And then there was the question of whether or not I'd ride again. It reminded me of when my parents were boating (stay with me here - there's a parallel.) They had a lovely sailboat that got destroyed when a propane tank in a neighboring boat exploded. After recovering from the shock of it all, they looked around and got a stately trawler-type boat, perfectly suited to their graying hair and creaking joints. My mom said the explosion was a really well disguised blessing and that Dad wouldn't have come in from taking down the sails any other way, except maybe falling overboard.

Well, when I fell overboard from that mule, but wanted to ride again, I didn't know if I'd be able to ride my sweet little pony mare, Peanut. I was unsure how much jarring my back would be able to cope with. So I began to think about gaited horses and found an experienced Missouri Foxtrotter mare not too far away in Powell Butte. Little did I know that that mare, Juneau, would lead to a whole new group of riding buddies and experiences. As summer progressed, those friends came to pick us up and haul us to safe and pleasant trails so I could get my riding courage back again. One of our rides took us past the place where the accident happened and it didn't make my heart race, all because of the kind and calm friends blessing me with their presence. And in searching for a saddle to fit Juneau I found one that also fit Peanut, so I get to ride both my mares in comfort. You guessed it - more blessings.

It seems that in crisis moments it's the stalwart friends who help us through. The ones who hear first about the joys and sorrows, who drop stuff to get there. I have two friends like that - Becky and Shawn. Becky showed up at the ER, bossing her way past nurses to get to my side and hold my hand. She came to stay when Goddy had to go away to shear alpacas (he put a note in the jar, "We made it through May and June," his busiest shearing months.) Shawn came when I was getting off the pain meds and didn't understand that the weird reaction making me shake and feel sick was withdrawal. She talked me through it, pointed out some natural alternatives and then we went for a little hike in the forest to breathe the air and be thankful. I am more than blessed to have these women in my life.

Yes, in those first weeks and months of recovery small blessings were all around. My dog, Lou, who usually runs around like a crazy thing, walked beside me as I slowly and awkwardly made my way down to the ranch to pet Peanut.

College roomies came for a weekend reunion and we laughed and dwelt in memories old and new. Goddy made scrambled eggs and toast day after day, when I couldn't keep anything else down. One of his shearing clients supplied the eggs.  He never let on how freaked out he was about the whole situation because he too had stalwart friends to hold him up. And Peanut, when I was finally cleared to ride, walked serenely around the arena,  Goddy holding her halter because I was too scared to ride alone.

It doesn't matter when that first note was written. It matters that it was. Because its true.