The last time I experienced a real moment with my mare was in April, I think, though my mind turns back to January, really, in the way I am about connecting with horses. I had such a distracting, hard winter. It squeezed me from all sides, squeezed her out to the distance.
In part, I let that happen. Something in me said let it rest. But that voice was barely a whisper against the din of self-recrimination. We humans are so flawed in how we bargain with the days, with time, with meaning. I am, anyway.
I just could not. Horse.
My work caught me up then, the summer-long freight train of the festival. It's always the same journey to the same destination, always speeding, always hurtling by. Goes so fast, I can't take it in, but then I've been on that train so many times, what more is there to see? It feels like that, like I've seen it all.
But I haven't, of course. It's just finding the time to notice, or being in the right place at the right time. I watched a young new horse try on the joust, his eyes quick and shifting to take in the sweep of stimulus before him: color, sound, collision. I never took my eyes off his face, just couldn't because the process of his struggle to understand was so vividly expressed upon it. It looks like he'll make it, but he has a choice in the matter. That's the very thing that could make him a great joust horse, his having the choice.
Here at the festival I'm the unofficial Dr. Doolittle. People bring all manner of creatures to me, believing I'll know just what to do. I've tucked young bats back into trees, hosted stunned birds in my guest room until the crowds have gone, crawled belly first under old decking to recover baby wood ducks who'd fallen through. I understand the impulse of people who don't know what to do, but can't stand to worry.
I would go up to the barn from time to time and see her, check on her in the worst of the summer's heat, shine her up with an oily fly spray. She comes when I call her. Never once has she asked Where have you been? But I have. I am.