Saturday, January 29, 2011

From Christian at Back Acres Farm

One of my favorite moments to spend with my horses is at night. Cold winter nights. Balmy summer nights. Every night before hitting the bed (and I hardly ever go to sleep much before midnight), I head out to let my old Gambler (30 y/o retired Clyde-cross, ex-policehorse) out of his separate mini-paddock where he spends some 8+ hours a day by himself to have enough time to eat his grain and hay without everyone else stealing his much needed nourishment. I check on the herd, and give them all another flake of hay (much welcome in these long frigid nights). I walk up to my mare Lili, she meets me half way. Her whiskers touch my face. A soft nicker, almost imperceptible under her steamy breath. We stand in silence for a few moments, contemplating the starry sky, the majestic sillouettes of the ancient maple trees that border the pasture. Do you want some hay? We march up to the barn through two feet of snow. The night envelops us, slows everything down, and makes the interaction with the horses sweeter and more tender than at other times of the day. The snow leaves even the most moonless nights bright. But before the snow started falling, it was pitch black during new moon. I would just stand out under the stars until my eyes adjusted to the darkness. At first I thought I'd never be able to see a thing, but then my vision slowly opens like a photograph developing in the chemical. Bit by bit I begin to make out a shape. Is this Destry over there? Is it a tree? The tree begins to move toward me. It is Destry. We move carefully, tentatively. We cannot be as sure about the world as we are during the day time. I sit with them for a while and listen to the sound of their teeth grinding the hay, occasionally they blow their nostrils: the sound of a horse at ease, simple happiness. As I listen to them eat in the dark, I think: there is nothing that could make me feel more at home. Out under the sheltering sky, the sound and smell of eating hay. It is like a faint memory of something I once was. By the time I leave them for the rest of the night, I laugh at my initial temptation of bringing a flashlight. I would have deprived myself of this magical moment when the world slowly emerges from utter darkness around me. 

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