Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Riding Through a Pandemic: Thoughts on Horses and the World Around Me

Heading home with Harley
With life nearly shut down around us, I'm grateful for my horses. They allow me to escape the reality of what's happening, except I find myself at the barn at odd times. What am I doing here riding at 9:00 in the morning? Shouldn't I be at the library? With remote work, I'm logging in early to check my emails before heading to the barn, then working into the evenings, listening to webinars, checking emails again, following up on ongoing projects, editing pictures for our library's Facebook posts, and staying caught up with the library's ever-adapting updates for services and plans for our Summer Reading Program.

So much for social distancing--the endless crowds of people on the trails is overwhelming!  The lovely weekend weather has led to so many cars parked up and down the road at the trail head, that the town put up NO PARKING signs in a vain attempt to limit the numbers. If nothing, the Covid-19 pandemic has forced people outdoors to rediscover the natural world around them.

Harley has proven to be a champ this spring, going solo time and again, even into new territory. He's gained so much confidence over the years. Oh, there may be an occasional spook, but no serious meltdowns. Yesterday, he stopped and tried to turn around a few times, but with urging, he continued down the trail. I think he's missing the company of Rolex. With John's hip pain, riding isn't in the books. So I will try and pick up some extra hours with Rolex when I can, and preferably under John's tutelage. She's a feisty girl with a lot of spunk, and a seriously bad case of spring fever! Here are a few pictures of me riding her, after John longed her--note the safety vest! Now is not the time for an E.R. visit.

Me aboard Rolex Girl

Rolex and I at one of our better moments.

We're into week six of the library closure. Mondays, my department has Monday email meetings, and Fridays we have a library-wide Webex meeting. Last week, I had to go into the library for some website work; eerie best describes the sensation I felt. As we adjust week by week for working, I do the same at home, trying to keep a similar schedule so when we finally do go back, my rhythm won't change. Horses in the early morning, clock in and work, sometimes throwing in household chores as I walk around plugged into my phone, then back out to the barn in the evening for feeding and de-mudding. Yes, the horses have made some lovely wallows for scrubbing off their winter hair.

Spring has taken its time arriving. Just this morning, we had another dusting of snow. The wind howled across the fields, making it feel more like February than late April. I wished I had worn my insulated boots! But the horses don't seem to mind, as long as the grass keeps coming up and turning greener every day, life is good. It feels strange, watching nature going about the seasonal changes, unaffected by the pandemic. Deer romp in the pasture at night, woodcocks call from the alder swamp, the first spring migratory birds arrive, trees form buds, flowers push up through the ground, and we humans are dropping like flies. Is Mother Nature getting her revenge for the awful way we we've treated this planet? The news tells of clean air over cities, so polluted just months ago, and dolphins swimming in the canals of Venice. Will we take this to heart and treat our home better once this pandemic has passed?

I admit to enjoying my time in the woods, whether on foot, or on Harley. Hiking offers more opportunities for taking pictures, although I admit regretting not having film for my old camera. I miss taking macro shots of critters, flowers, and nature's beauty in patterns. A few weeks ago, I came across a tree, struck by lightning not too long ago, possibly during the year's first thunderstorm back in March? I imagined what it would have been like to see and hear the crash, smell the burning, and watch that tree split and catch fire. The power of nature is truly amazing.

When we finally make it through this, and if life returns to some normalcy, I need to go visit my parents, quarantined in a senior living facility since March. Then, I need to make plans; plans to get ourselves and our horses onto the same piece of property, whether it's here in Maine, or hopefully, Vermont. Until then, I'll keep riding, keep hiking, and keep our lives moving forward with hope.

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