|• Self portrait with Starbuck yesterday •|
Yesterday I took a little Sunday ride with Jeff's mom, Louise. Last week was one of those weeks that really puts you through your paces. And the night before had been especially rough, with Elliott not feeling well, and consequently, not sleeping well. So a ride was exactly what I needed to get my mind of off life's craziness for a few hours. I'm very thankful to Louise for acting as my Paso Robles back-country tourguide yesterday, and VERY grateful to Jeffrey for encouraging me to go have fun, while he stayed behind to watch a grumpy 2 year old.
Since I'm not much of a hiker, or a camper, I've really enjoyed exploring the Central Coast on horseback this past year. It makes me feel like I'm getting to know the land in a much different, and deeper way. Riding here has helped me to feel grounded and a bit more in touch with where I live. I also love that Starbuck is the one exploring this new territory with me. He's a kindred spirit, and an old friend- and I can't say I have many of either nearby. It's a comfort to have him here.
|• Baby 'Buck. I had to stand on my knees to be eye-level with him for this photo •|
• All grown up and modeling for Ambiance last Summer •
I love that he knows all the nooks and crannies of the trails back home on our little island- the ones I spent years and years exploring on my "babysitter" horses. And I like that we're discovering California together. But it's funny riding here, my mind can't help but make comparisons. For all the wetness, deep mud, wild fruit, and giant tree roots covering the trails back home, here there are ancient oaks, deer, gigantic pinecones, crunchy earth, and lots of dust. A coyote crossed our path yesterday. A COYOTE! I'd only ever seen one briefly from the window of a train before. A dog barked from behind a fence and startled Starbuck. The sudden jolt reminded me of my constant fear - from a childhood spent on horseback... the threat of a pheasant flying out from under tall buffalo grass and spooking a running horse sideways. It happened so many times, and kept me forever grateful for my saddle-horn. Louise cautioned me that the comparable danger to riders here, is a sudden, bounding deer.
I don't talk much about them here on the blog, but it's amazing how much of my life, and how many of my memories were made on the back of a horse. Crossing rivers, swimming through little waves... feeling my body float up and parallel with the surface of the water, clinging to a wet mane. It's a visceral memory that I can still feel inside, and I love that I know it. Wind so hard against my face, I could barely keep my eyes open, running up to the top of hills to see the valleys and taro fields far below. Picking strawberry guavas to share with my horse. One for you... one for me... Always exploring, always discovering, always learning.
One day when I was about 9 or 10 years old, I went for a long ride, exploring the base of a mountainous jungle with my horse and my dog. Eventually I found a giant, old mango tree with passion fruit vines growing in it. On the ground, I'd never have noticed them, but on my horse, they brushed across my face as I rode under the tree.
|*Photo Credit: Unknown (via google)|
The purple and white flowers grew upside-down and looked like alien spaceships. Convinced that I'd uncovered an entirely new species, I tucked a flower (bigger than my hand) into the pocket of my saddle, and raced back to announce my discovery (and start my career as a world-famous explorer/botanist/prodigy). Of course, when I reached the barn, the flower was gone. I knew that without a trail to guide me back, I'd never find the "magical tree" again. So you can imagine my shock when I discovered the flowering vine for sale at Home Depot as an adult. It made me laugh out loud.
I can only wonder what discoveries lay ahead for me in this old cowboy country. It's so exciting to explore lands that horses and riders have traversed for centuries! Excuse me, my inner history-nerd is showing, but really! Louise told me about the ruins of a mission, and cemetery nearby and I'm very anxious to learn more. Starbuck concurs. We'll keep you updated. :)