Monday, September 19, 2016

I don’t even know why I bother brushing myself off.  As if I can somehow pound off the now dried mud from my shirt.  And, why on earth do I even check my earrings?  Really, Steph? You worry that you have your earrings and their backings and their little rubbery plugs?

Yes, I most certainly do.  I may not have mascara on one eye but I will be damned if I lose my priceless seven dollar earrings!

I have only waded through the grasses for a few feet, but it has taken me hours, if I can judge by sunlight and shadows.  With each step I remember parts of the path still playing in my mind as one of those HBO miniseries meant for my eyes only.  As I steady my feet, learning the new steps here in the grasses, I remember the triumphs of the woods – the near misses of such moments tripping over a veiny tree root because I was too preoccupied with patterns of leaves and songs of birds.  I was not watching where I had been placing my feet nor that I needed to lift steps higher to navigate over those roots.

I now march slow-motion in over-exaggerated goose steps, plodding through the field.  I wish I had been so careful among those roots.  In one particular instance (I wish I could say I learned from one good fall…um, no) I had landed spread eagle, my head barely an inch from a rock, narrowly missing the trunk of an oak tree.  I wish I could forever lock it in my head as “the learning tree,” but no.  I did not learn from that fall.  I fell many times after that.  Why would I remember that one, if it indeed taught me nothing because I repeated that closest of close calls type falls?

Hmpf.  With equal disgust, I goosestep another step forward now through the grasses.  I pause. I pray a bit with a mixture of soft laughter and louder tears, somehow afraid to be judged insane by these grasses, these ears and eyes of the earth.  I had been so then, with a river of a prayer flowing with tears and a chuckle.  Dear Lord, I wondered, still lying there among the rocks, mud and trees, how many times do I call upon you in gratitude and to remain with me?  

 (Per prior post:  Twenty-seven and counting…I think I could safely double that number…)

The close calls.  I almost bashed my head against a rock.  I almost ran in fear at the sight of tree roots which I thought, in the shadows of dusky forest light, were certainly snakes.  Really Steph?  Oh, my imagination ran wild at times when fear had grabbed at me.

Another step forward in the grasses.  My balance returns.  I pick up the pace a bit, stopping only when I can grab from both sides, the grasses around me.  Now I start wondering at the perils here, in these grasses.  Wolves? Cougars?  I laugh at the obvious joke.  “Be the wolf.” “Be the cougar.”  I laugh loudly with the snorts and giggles one usually reserves for those shared jokes among sister-friends.  And I step a bit quicker, lighter now by the shared intimacy of humor between these grasses and I.


For the first twenty minutes of my Sunday ride I lavished myself with such self-pride and the busiest of thoughts, it was sinful.  No, seriously it was.  I was so proud of myself, returning to the horse, how great it was that I was returning to an activity I love.  I could place a huge affirmative red check mark on the self-help list of positivity.  Oh, but my mind did not stop there.  Surely I was on my way to equestrian greatness!  My imagination played with how knightly I could be or how regal I could ride or even, how, if the margarine commercials were at all fair, I could be the female version of “it cannot be butter” or whatever that all is.

Twenty minutes.  Maybe less.  Her ears twitch front to side to back, alternating with tosses of her mane.  I finger the loose strands out of her eyes, then rub the muscles in her neck.  I lean too far forward, almost losing my balance as she dips her head to sneak a bite of the sweetness of flowered trail grasses.  I begin to giggle at our comedy – she with her snacking and me at my mindset.  Really Steph.  Just ride.

My eye caught our shared movement in the shadows which accompanied us.  Her head seems as long as that of my thigh.  She lifts it without thought and without effort.  I am elevated atop her higher than I would ever walk, seeing farther than I would be able to see alone.  I hold the leather reins to the bit between her teeth.  And we ride with the force of her four practiced legs.  I watch our shadows to see the movement of rider and horse…  Somehow imagination does not even compare…

And I keep riding, walking, and learning how to ride by letting her teach me.


Over and over I look forward to the tree waiting for me.  I know it is there not because I can see its entirety.  No, the grasses are too high.  But I see the topmost part of its greenery, cutting an arc against the blue horizon.  The grasses ahead of me reveal no path.  

Over and over I check behind me.  I have shocking lost track of the only navigational point, that one broken branch which marked my exit from the gates of raspberry bushes.  I curse at myself for not realizing this fact sooner – I needed to mark that spot higher up so as to be visible in the grasses the further I traveled.  Now how would I ever find my way back?

“Oh.”  I look to the sky.  A prayer and a step.  A prayer and a step.

Silverstein had it right.  That mighty oak was not only my learning tree, it was my Giving Tree

Happy Monday! (My favorite day of the week, next to Sundays, of course…)




#imjustme #losethebranch #thebrickdandelion #amostamazingbeautifuljourney #isharetrees #theparadoxofthejourney


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