Fourchette Creek, July 21

DSC_8907   Fourchette Creek

Morning light spills
through grass thick
with dew, small whorls
of dust rise
from hooves
stamping their lives
into this ground. Listen,
I rise
to chatter
of birds;
small, fierce,
and brown.
Fourchette Creek, July 21

Lonesome is rolling in a field of crested wheat grass, Pearl is exploring the perimeter of the fence. I am both exhausted and exhilarated. This land is so open. The horizons unhemmed. In huge swaths the landscape is invariably whole, uncut by power lines or trees. Once you quit your fighting, your swatting at the clouds of biting bugs, once you stop sheltering yourself from the hard noon sun, a shift happens. A transition between fighting your environment and becoming part of it. Not minding so much the heat and sweat. (I will say I haven’t entirely made the switch-the mosquitos at night still have me swatting.) It’s been some long days. When we left the Matador a few days back, come noon it was hot enough that a reservoir we passed looked awfully inviting to pass the heat of the day. We splashed around some with the horses, had lunch, napped, and did some birding. Saw this great eared grebe, his eyes red, dipping and diving through the marshes. A ruddy duck boasted a beautiful iridescent blue bill. There was a muskrat rutting around in the mud, and a billion blue dragonflies anchored to different grasses as the wind blew their lithe bodies this way and that. The place was so alive, so teeming with vibrancy, all of the insects and animals and their habits, going about their day. And us with our funny daily routine: checking hooves, scratching big white mule ears, watching the sky fill up with stars. I felt part of it, no different than the blue-billed ruddy duck making its way around its pond. It was about eight before we finally finished packing up to continue riding. It was a gorgeous ride out of the Matador, the perfect time to be moving. The sage brush steppe lit with evening light, the horses moving quick in the cool temperature. Pearl was trailing behind us, stopping for an occasional roll and snack, and then she’d come galumphing and cantering after us, her ears flopping in every direction. The ride was pretty idyllic until night set in and we couldn’t see much of the road. We were still a couple of miles from water when the sun finally sank, so we made the last few miles by starlight. We’d bargained for a little more moonlight, but the clouds gathering cloaked it pretty well. By the time we made it to the reservoir it was 11 and dark. The grey sky was turning tar black, and we began to hear rumbling from over the hills and would see an occasional streak of lightning light up the horizon. By the time we had the fence set up and everybody hobbled, the wind was whipping and the lightning quite a bit closer. The windmill on the shore of the pond was whirring. We finally got everything secured and the tent set up in huge gusts of wind. By the time we finally crawled in it was 2:30. We’d started riding at 5:00 that morning, so were exhausted. The whole night I worried the horses were going to break out. I checked on them twice during a restless night’s sleep. Luckily, they were lined up at the gate the next morning, calm and quiet.

* * *

An assortment of photos from the last few weeks. Click to enlarge.

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