Up incredibly early, dressed in boots and jeans, camera in hand, I walked out the door. Shutting it softly as I did not want to wake the house. The crisp early morning air filled my lungs and I decided the sweater I was wearing wasn’t going to be enough to keep me warm. I grabbed my denim coat and headed to the truck. Driving down the back country roads before the sun kissed the horizon, I was excited about my morning journey. I crossed the cattle guard and slowly made my way up the gravel drive. The tires crunching the gravel adding to the sounds of the early morning as I drove with the window down. Somewhere in the far off distance a coyote lent his voice to the darkness, sending chills down my spine.
The warmth of the house spilled out the windows, the glowing light of the house tried to escape. I stepped up on the wooden porch as the front door opened, allowing warmth and light to bathe my feet and cold hands. A cup of hot coffee thrust at me and a smile and warm welcome touched my heart. In the hearth, a roaring fire, the odor of mesquite burning, the faint smell of the long since extinguished candle from the night before still lingered in the room, and the aroma of cologne mingled as my senses took in the room.
We sat momentarily, sharing the hot coffee and chatting softly. Then, cups deposited in the deep Italian sink, we began our journey. Out to the barn, we fed the chickens, the sheep, the goats. We took time with each and every animal to love and nurture. The softness of the chicken feathers as the eggs were gathered, whispering softly to each lady. Thanking her for her hard work and for not pecking the bare skin of my hand. The baby lambs playing in the pen around the ewes, eagerly awaiting breakfast. Nibbling at my jacket edge and butting heads with each other. We talked of the animals, of the love and friendship they provide. We talked of caring for them and appreciating them. We chatted about friendships and lost loves, of animals that have blessed our lives. Chores done, we stepped into the big red barn that seemed to me should be in a picture somewhere. Pictures? My camera still in its fanny pack, I have not even uncased it.
Inside the warm barn, was like walking into an equestrian dream. The smell of fresh hay, of the horses, the sounds of the beautiful animals engulfed my senses. Standing in the middle of the barn, taking in the whole of the experience, I realized my host had already retrieved the tack. She was standing at the stall door laughing at me. I opened the stall door and was greeted by the whinny of a beautiful paint. Holding my hand out so that she could take the sugar cube from my hand, I began stroking her majestic face. Talking softly, listening to her talk back. I let my hands caress her body, her legs, and ran my fingers through her mane. She knew that I would have another treat for her, and she sought it out. Nudging my arm, nuzzling my shoulder, I laughed at her eagerness. “Patience, Princess,” I crooned. I rubbed her before sliding the llama hair blanket across her, I slowly stroked her neck and face as I slid the lead rope over her head. I reached into my coat pocket and pulled the shiny red apple out. “Do you want this now?” I whispered. Her head bobbed up and down. I knew that she wanted it. As she ate the apple I led her from the stall out into the star filled sky, dimming slightly as the thin orange line graced the horizon. My host had been busy with the chestnut that she lead out of the barn. I laid the lead rope up across her back as I stepped up on the bottom pipe of the fence. I am not tall enough not to have a boost. Mounted on the two big, wonderful beasts we began our ride.
We rode in silence both enjoying the morning sounds, the sounds of the bobwhites crooning, the sounds of the hoof falls, the crunch of the dead foliage that covered the ground. The breathing of our riding partner as it pierced the morning.
As the sun began to break the horizon we began to talk. To talk of things that mean nothing, but mean everything. We talked of the past, of our journey’s, how we had arrived where we were. We talked of the future, where we wanted our path to go, what we wanted it decorated with, what our hearts felt. We talked softly, with no fears. We talked of the present. Of what we needed in our lives, of how we wanted to put those things into our lives. The log cabin growing smaller as we rode. Nature engulfing and hugging as we let the horses take us farther into the early morning. We talked of nature, of connections, or spirit, of past loves and future hopes.
The sunrise began to paint with all the colors that nature possesses across the eastern sky. The creek babbling as we approached. We dismounted and let the horses roam the waters edge. Drinking the cool water that sparkled in the sunrise then wondering off a ways to graze in the winter wheat. We found a downed oak tree and sat as if we were sitting in the most regal of chairs. Neither talking but enjoying the peacefulness of the sunrise. Our talk turned to spirituality. A subject that is rather raw right now with me. We talked of the loss of our mother’s and how it began a new journey for both of us. It was as if she knew I was holding back. She gently stroked my arm. Encouraging, enticing, never pushing. I began to tell her of my thoughts, my experiences. I began to slowly trust. She never laughed, she never condemned. She asked all the right questions and her input of her own experiences took our conversation deeper and deeper into my very soul. We sat in the cool morning air, the water talking softly, the horses speaking gently, the earth seemed to vanish to the point that there were just two souls. We sat and talked for what seemed only moments, but in actuality was at length. The sun was climbing when we remounted and headed back to the barn. Laughter, tears, and emotions shared, we rode in comfortable silence.
The horses brushed and put away with fresh hay and water. A treat of oats. We walked and talked our way back to the house. We enjoyed a hot cup of coffee as we warmed by the fire and for the first time in a long time, I felt connected.
I drove towards the house. Knowing that I had not taken my camera out a single time. I pulled off the road into the parking lot of a small school long since abandoned. I took out my laptop and I began to write. Putting into words the simple act of friendship beginning. The simple act of sharing a morning ride. The past few weeks have been incredibly stressful, I have been trying to accomplish so much yet I have been wondering if I am pulling away from people that I thought cared. I have been wondering if I have made them mad or afraid or if I have utterly just showed how weird I really am and they have pulled away. Or is it that we are all so wrapped in our own things that we have just not had the time or energy to share. I share, then I get fearful that I am too strange to be liked. That I am too different to be friends with people. That I will always be that alien. Each of us was created to be different, to stand out on our own, but I have always felt that I was beyond different. My intentions today were to walk away from people that I have recently shared with. To walk away from a wonderful friend that I love dearly. Why? Fear. Fear that I have shown too much of myself. That I have shared too much of my own soul. Hot tears streak my face, as I write. It has been awhile since I really wrote anything, little things here and there but nothing major. No, my life isn’t perfect. In so many ways it is far from it. But it is my life right now, and all I can do is take each day and find the simple blessings that are given to me. Be incredibly happy in them and learn from what isn’t perfect for it is those trials and tribulations that make me this strong, loving, caring woman. So, I guess the only question left in my heart is how to conquer the fear of having lost people that I opened up to. Is it me or is it fact? Do other people have this fear? Time will tell…..