Sunday, May 25, 2014

A grand week off

Even though April set a record for warmth, I have not felt very warm this spring.  The dwindling wood pile keeps shrinking since I've kept the wood stove going at night to take the chill off. The house never seems to warm up to the outside temperature. Just a couple of weeks ago, out by the wood pile, the snow fleas, aka springtails, put in an appearance. A coating, almost like a blanket of soot, covered part of the tarp, as they hopped harmlessly on the plastic. I know some people may be horrified by this, but I've never seen them inside, only on snow and puddles in late winter/early spring. Don't worry, they don't bite! I'm not complaining--I like a long, cool spring! No need to rush into summer. Let's savor the warm days, the few annoying early black flies, and the lovely spring wildflowers.

This time of year, I need to keep hopping off Harley so I can photograph flowers. Poor John gets stuck playing "groom", holding my horse while I crouch on the ground, trying to zoom in on the magnificent wonder of the wildflowers.

I took a week and a half off from work with every intention of getting a lot of work done on the house. But I found it hard to stay focused on indoor painting when the weather for riding was absolutely perfect. John and I rode through the woods around Orris Falls where I photographed a number of spring flowers. Another lovely reason to be outside--the warblers are singing from every tree. And try as I might, I could only hear, and never saw, the scarlet tanager calling, "chick burr, chick burr" high in the leafy canopy.

The trail pictured to the right is one of my favorites. The footing is perfect and I've never seen a soul out there--only snowshoe tracks once! In fact, it gets so little traffic, it hardly looks used!

This was one of those cool 50 degree days when a flannel shirt is still required, but it's warm enough for the black flies to be a problem, hence Harley's head gear!

And the view from the other direction: a handsome guy on a classy looking Thoroughbred. Our horses' head nets seems to always be askew!

Spring fever has everyone feeling a bit rowdy. Even steady Rolex has exhibited some spookiness, something I just expect with 'ole Harley. "What's that in the woods? Oh no, a stump!"

Some spring beauties: Wild columbine--hummingbirds love this flower. I've put some in my garden and it spreads nicely! (Note: I purchased the plant; I never dig up wild plants.)

Another fragile, easily missed flower: Dwarf Ginseng

And in a nice wet, boggy spot: an island of Jack-in-the-Pulpit and Violets.

Time spent in the saddle and time spent out--it's all good. Just ambling through the woods, enjoying the sights. A broad-winged hawk flew overhead and we spotted a porcupine squatting in the crotch of a tree, having a siesta. I don't think the horses even noticed the spiny lump! John stopped for a little tack adjustment and it looks like Rolex is learning to ground tie. She's such a smart girl!

Back at the barn, our resident gray tree frog was singing in the sun, until I sneaked in for close-up shot. It's amazing how he blends right in with the bark. I followed his noise to track him down.

As the week progressed, wet weather closed in, forcing me to work on my indoor painting chores, and John had a couple of kayaks in the repair shop. The first S.M.A.R.T. ride was coming up on Sunday, but first I needed Harley's new Easyboot Backcountry Glove shoes to arrive. So we diligently did our chores, watched for UPS, and kept an eye on the sky, waiting to see what the weather would be for the ride.

Sunday dawned foggy and drizzly. I went out early to feed but by the time I arrived back home, we decided to skip the ride. By mid-afternoon when I finished my painting, the sun started to break through. Although it was a little late for our own version of the ride, we had hours of daylight still ahead. So we tacked up Harley (complete with new boots) and Rolex and rode the still-marked beginning of the S.M.A.R.T. trail ride. This entailed riding down the paved roads a ways, and over two bridges. Harley was amazing! I expected to be leading my balking boy over the bridges. He was leading the way--my brave boy!

We explored some unknown terrain through some mucky bogs (the Easyboots stayed on--they get a thumbs up for deep mud) and eventually came out on a recognized trail. In fact, the horses knew which way to head home, although they kept trying to take the direct route which involves deep water and bushwhacking! After all the rain, the mosquitoes were plentiful, and thirsty. Our horses sweated off the bug dope, so we needed fly swatters to sweep them off their necks and backsides. I subjected everyone to a quick stop while I photographed a patch of gaywings--such lovely flowers, I couldn't miss the chance. They hold a special memory for me from a childhood book "Signs of the Fairies" where this flower is a "fairy airplane".

After a solid three hour ride, both horses and riders were ready for some dinner. Our ponies got extra mash tonight. Harley got an extra peck on the nose for being such a magnificent leader! Back to work on Tuesday. Oh to be able to just ride all summer long!


  1. So many cool things in your post! First: YES, so wonderful to get out in the wilderness and amble and frolic. Your woods always look so fabulous. And this time of year, picture perfect with all those gowing plants and flowers blossoms. (Wouldn't Blossom be kind of a cute name for a little filly?) And the BOOTS! They look GREAT in the photo. Also thrilled to hear they stayed on in deep mud...always an issue around here. I happened to notice your saddle pad with the built in pocket. That is pretty awesome. What do you keep in there?
    Snow fleas, GROSS! Fly Bonnets, SUPERCUTE!
    Keep ridin'!

    1. Pockets should be full of carrots, but we only had one left for Harley and Rolex to share! Also a great spot for the camera, hoof pick, extra roll-on bug dope. But not a good spot for the phone should me and my mount become separated!
      Another nice feature of the Easyboot Backcountry Gloves--you can buy replacement uppers when the velcro/fabric gets worn out!

    2. I was just in your state, up in Machais. Gorgeous. So different from around here. I did not see too many brumbies up there! Thanks for the insight about the easyboot gloves. I am still thinking about them. They do look promising.

  2. Like Baystatebrumby I noticed your saddle pad with the pockets! I have a couple of very similar ones. They're dead handy for using with an English saddle when you need to carry extra gear.
    I also have a much more expensive one which I bought last year - wool lined, has 2 built in pockets plus straps and rings to tie on a roll and pommel saddlebags. I'm less happy with that one - it seems small and always settles down on the withers :-(
    Interested in your easy boot gloves, too!! I'll be curious to see how you get on with them. I still love the Renegades but I must admit they do come off a little too often. I have a pair of Cavallo sport boots for Flurry, I'm impressed with them, they have never come off and have never rubbed his heels despite seeming to be a tight fit.
    Enjoy Spring. Damn flies are nearly up to full strength here already.


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