Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Closing The Weave

I really did step back from my mare, and it's been a strange kind of hard work to do it. I wrote about needing time to let a bad horse year go and begin another one fresh. Then I imagined an encircling winter, the kind that brings to mind weathering it out on an 1800s prairie, living the punishing days by rote until the thaw. For me, there's renewal in that kind of waiting. What I imagined isn't quite how it went, though. There have been too many days of mildness and the weather has disoriented me in my own thinking. It's like it's summer and I've already lost the spring, squandered the spring. At least, I have those shimmers of guilt.

Then I found this amazing picture. It's not possible to say all that I see in it, all that I think about it. I can say it really stirred me up. How she clutches that horse to her, how she hunches protectively, the tension plain to see. I felt like that a couple of times last year. Her fierceness - I felt that. The sweet compliance of her mare even reminds me of my own.

Once I had a horse, Scout, who was attuned to every tension in my body. It wasn't a good thing for us as a team under saddle, but it was oddly validating, a kind of direct proof that things were going on in me, in my life. She could remind me of how bad I felt, how wound up I was with the churning of things. She reflected it and that brought us close together. I don't have that with Saxony; she's not that kind of horse. I have to bring myself down to be with her, drop out of my head, come closer to simplicity. It's really hard. She wants her rubs, her dawdles, her German muffins, our gazing eye to eye. She doesn't know that I'm a mind-rooted existentialist and she doesn't feed off my auto-cues of anxiety and doubt, either unwitting or overt. It means she can never become part of my drama unless I drag her there. I know that is a good thing, but I also know that's why it's taking me so long to come back to her. I am trying to discard things in my life I don't need or want anymore, trying to discard those things from myself.

My mare may be unbalanced, but she travels easier in herself right now than I, who can walk a straight line effortlessly but still struggle to get out of my own way.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

A Life Lived Rough

She was a cat who lived, island-like, at the fair. She would not come anywhere near the human side of life. Over the years, she cranked out litter after litter. I stole and kept some of her kids, deceiving her away from them with daily food.

In 2008, I baited a live trap and caught her. I got her spayed and ear-tipped, knowing she would always be wild. In fact, she broke out of my office the night I locked her there to recover from the spay. But she came to expect the food. We worked out an understanding, of sorts. I wouldn't try to tame her, she wouldn't run from me.

Each autumn, I left the fair to move back to the city, knowing that I would worry about her making it through the winter. I left an automatic feeder, outdoor heating pad and a heated water bowl. It was never enough, though: I had to drive down and check. I think the moment I got her spayed, I had to assume responsibility for her.

So in 2010 I trapped her one more time - it took days because she was wise to me by then - and moved her to the farm where I kept my horses. Up in the hayloft, I released her from the trap. She darted to the wall opposite of where I crouched. "This is where you live now, Harlotta," I told her. "I can feed you every day and you can be master of all you survey. Please stay here."

And she did stay. Even when that farm blew apart and I had to leave, she stayed. It was impossible for me to catch her and take her with me. Instead, someone very kind there took over for me. I brought food out from time to time, and I knew she was all right, but it haunted me that I'd left her. It didn't matter to her, though, and why should it have? Her needs were met, and they continued to be met after I was gone.

She listened to me. She never left that farm, and that's where she died, in her sleep, on Sunday morning. Now I can let go of her in the only way I ever wanted to, with peace of mind and relief. Hers was a life lived so roughly, but still, it ended in a better place.