Even as it lingered fresh in my senses while I drove away from the barn, I knew I would not be able to capture in words the simple purity of tonight. It was the kind of night that quietly marks the end of one season and beckons toward another, suggesting in its stillness riches in all to come.
It began with an unplanned club date. Scout's tail was so rigid with burrs, it bludgeoned her every time she lifted it, bluntly irritating her into forward motion when she only wanted to sigh and browse in the evening light. I can't solve a tail like that in less than 20 minutes, but I can't let it go, either. I put the brakes on my pace and shifted my awareness of time. Often I carry a sense of urgency even when nothing is pressing at me; it's a habit I forget to let go of.
I brought the horses in for P.M. feeding, then dropped hay in the lots under the glow of the south shed light. The air was so kind, so clean. I watched a jet cross high in the sky, its belly lights winking down from the darkness.
Scout stood sweetly, one ear tipped back to me, while I slimed on detangler and picked through the burrs, sliding them in mean little clumps down the length of her tail and off the end. I talked to her as I worked. It's been months since I've been alone at the barn, alone with the horses, alone with Scout. She's had her adventures this summer, just as I've had mine. I murmur to her about this and that. "Ahh huh huh huh," she replies, whickering low in her throat. I rest my head against her flank, listening to the whistle of the distant train, that train I hear so often at the barn, the one I love.
When the horses had been turned out for the night, I meant to leave, but something held me there. I went out into Lot 1 and leaned against the stone barn wall. The horses snuffled through their hay, moving easily, peacefully, between the flakes. In the stillness I tried to pick out and listen to each pair of jaws grinding; in the darkness I tried to see the shadowy bulk of each body. The light on the old shed glanced off a hip here, a shoulder there. I stood silent, fully present, captivated by the easiness of the horses at night, all of them content in their basic world, all of them completely unaware of nourishing me so much through their nearness and their calm. What a way to breathe.