Thursday, April 14, 2011

We Wait.

One week ago we learned that things with a loan were promising again, but we know that "promising" doesn't build a house. We were told that tomorrow we'd know for sure, but we know "tomorrow" means next week. We watch as a new drought sets in, and the growing grass turns brown. The stakes set out by the builder have been pushed aside by the cows and wind. Meanwhile the trees bloom in full, electric green since the drought doesn't matter to them, and they've been there so long, these passing days and years are like seconds and minutes. Their roots run deep. They draw water from somewhere else.

I know we'll get the news tomorrow or Monday, or next Friday. I'm certain it will be another shoulder shrug or empty explanation. I don't know when you turn away from a place. People ask for an "update" and the answer's the same, always. We wait.

Sunday, April 10, 2011


If you've ever been within spitting distance of a donkey, then you already know this: they aren't anything like horses. Remember your awkward fifth grade self? Probably all braces, and frizzy hair, and gangly limbs, and just a very un-glamorous version of your adult, fabulous self (I'm not being specific to myself. No, really! I'm speaking generally about all of us! Really! ......... Ok. It's me.)? Well that's how donkeys compare to horses; they're the unformed, in-elegant version of the magnificent equine species. To summarize: they don't really measure up.

Of course, for someone wishing for a horse, they'll do in a pinch. If you squint really hard and cover your ears when around them, a donkey will just barely pass as a sorry example of a horse. At least that's what I thought, until we rode the horses over. Having the two creatures nose-to-nose brought them into stark contrast. And I wasn't the only one noticing the puny stature and other, vast differences between them. The meeting on Saturday represented the donkey herd's first encounter with a bona fide horse, and boy were they shocked. After lots of staring, they all broke out into jagged hee haws and screams, thusly hoping to intimidate the new beasts with their terrifying, er, hee haws (Nothing called a "hee haw" is scary. Ever).

Then they attempted to chase the horses and demonstrate their power and speed by galloping along the fence-line as we rode through the pasture. Unfortunately, a donkey "gallop" equates more to a stiff hop than the long, graceful strides of a horse. It wasn't impressing anyone. Finally Boo decided to take one for the team and confidently stepped forward. Ears back, head down. I think he even tried to puff out his sides a little to look really scary. Sadly, Chocolate (horse) called his bluff by also stepping forward, an action that was so frightening, Boo immediately spun around to show his bottom, gave a very small sideways kick, and ran away. The "spin and kick" maneuver is meant to threaten, but it really loses its power when done whilst running away.

It wasn't a proud showing. I know Saturday's visit dealt a huge blow to their little egos. But although they're crappy horse replacements, they do a great job being donkeys. Just donkeys.

Trying Again

Dwayne has horses. Two horses, actually, both of whom he offers out to anyone who perks up at the word "horses" (me me me!). In fact, every time we see Dwayne he reminds me where to find his hidden house key, where the saddles are kept, and of the gate lock code for a neighboring pasture with a 200 acre view and ponds for as much trail riding as a girl could ever desire. You'd think I'd jump all over this chance and ditch my day job in order to trot around the coutryside at all times since, seriously, he'd let me. But there's just this one pesky little thing about my past that keeps me from literally riding off into the sunset. When I was young I used to ride horses. Alot. I started in the Western saddle and tried out barrel racing but realized fast the glory of the English seat and did some jumping and things of that nature. Somewhere during that time I had a nasty fall from a horse, and my head went into a metal tube fence. Ow. After that experience, and a few others that sent me flying over fences, I became terrified of riding, and of horses. In fact, I used to become physically ill before getting back up in a saddle - true story. Over the years I forced myself to get over it because, regardless of the fear of riding, the love for horses never wanes. I mean really, you can take the girl off the horse but you can't take the...well you get what I'm saying.

My worst riding accident occurred in a very controlled environment and since it did, I've been terrified of riding on a trail or in an open field where chances are better that the horse may gallop out of control or scratch you off onto a nearby tree. The key, in these situations, is to be stronger than the horse, never demonstrate fear, and basically show the horse what's what. If you're literally shaking in your boots, this is a hard attitude to fake. So here I am, years past the events that terrorized me when I was a girl, still madly in love horses, and still spooked at the notion of riding them. So yesterday, when Jer and I saddled up Robin and Chocolate at Dwayne's place and took them down the road to wander around our property, it was a bit of a breakthrough. For the first time in years I let the horse run - up and down and back and again - on our long gravel drive. We ran so fast my hat flew off into the brush, and I remembered exactly why I loved that crazy feeling in the first place. Riding a horse, really riding a horse, is a form of controlled chaos. You've got to keep your seat, gather your reins, point those heels down, manage the speed, steer the animal, and above all else - stay in the saddle. If you can manage all that, then what you've got left is the most incredible feeling of power and exhiliration. It's one of those speechless feelings, really. So there's nothing more to say about it.

But I do know that wandering the property on horseback and viewing the land from up high, is how it's supposed to be done. Horses and humans go way back, after all. What we gained in efficiency with motorized transport, we sacrificed in the details of the world that you can only see when walking slow and hearing the clip clop of horses hooves. It's a primal relationship, this thing between us. But as natural as it feels to be up in the saddle, I'll never completely shake a sense of awe-inspiring respect and some fear. They are powerful beasts, after all.

Monday, April 4, 2011

You Can Call Me Darlin'

I've finally accepted the duality of my life. I wasn't sure duality was actually a word, so I looked it up. And in doing so realized that it's not only a word, but the word that so completely defines me at this moment. "The state or quality of being two, or in two parts." Yep, that about sums things up. I sometimes wonder if moving to the land will resolve the duality of this life.

Sunday afternoon I was wandering in the front acreage when I heard a car horn honk repeatedly and then the sound of someone whistling loudly to get our attention. There's only one person in our lives who demonstrates this level of persistence in order to have a neighborly chat. If you're not readily accessible, oh boy, he'll find you.

Dwayne's Sunday visits come like clockwork since we've gotten the trailer. He knows where to find us and makes a point of stopping by once a week to provide the neighborhood update. It's the old fashioned version of tabloid news. Dwayne is, above all else, a storyteller. He starts each tale with one hand on his beer and the other shoved into his pocket (or maybe holding the cell phone that's always ringing), but once he gets going, both arms are flailing, he's crouched down at least once, changed his voice, acted out a scene, and laughed so hard he's slapped both of his own thighs. By the time we hear about the snakes he's seen, catfish he's caught, or steaks he's eaten during the week, they've grown to twice their original size. I'm not saying he exaggerates as much as embellishes the truth. But isn't that the best way to hear a story? Oh, and it's true that the bulk of our conversations revolve around the three aforementioned items: wildlife seen, caught, or eaten.

This Sunday Dwayne deviated slightly from the normal topics of conversation to share a story about his good friend Charlie who clearly was a lucky man, and Dwayne stopped at this moment in his storytelling to touch my shoulder and say "Excuse what I'm about to say, but you're in the country now darlin' " and went on to explain that Charlie's gift was that "he always fell in shit and came out smellin' like a rose." Shoot, as long as you call me darlin' and remind me that I'm in the country, you can say just about whatever you'd like, Dee-you-wayne.

Stories like that just aren't told in the places where I spend the weekdays. On Monday mornings I pack away the weekend and drag around the feeling of that place all week long, like this whole entire other that's carried around for five days until it's time to unpack memories of the previous weekend and live it again. I'm lighter out there, is what I'm trying to say. It's the other side of this life, for two days; talking different and walking different and caring about things that just don't cross the mind in the days spent behind a desk or on a computer. Duality, yes sir. I accept that there's two of me split between days of the week. And that load isn't too heavy to carry, but I sure won't miss when it's gone.