Monday, February 11, 2013

A Breath of Fresh Air

I didn't even realize I was feeling drained by living in the city until I spent the day in the country. While it's been fun to dress up, to eat out, and to get some quality culture in, I really am a country mouse.

Today I joined a new friend whom John and I met 2 weeks ago when we rented one of her rooms through AirBnB on our first night in Virginia. She's a really neat lady, a local psychologist with 5 dogs and 4 horses. She runs her own practice and teaches at a university during the week, and on the weekends she drives an hour outside of town to visit her horses. I offered to go along with her if she ever wanted a riding buddy and she brought me along this weekend. I was thrilled to hop in the car and see a few ranches (equestrian properties?), farms, trees, quaint pre-revolution towns, and rich-people-mansions with amazing views.

On the way to the barn we stopped at a small-scale chicken house and bought a few dozen free range eggs of various colors and sizes. We also stopped at an adorable farm market / coffee house bakery and I picked out a few locally grown baby potatoes and semi-local jersey cow yogurt.

Her horses: Jokster, Nutmeg, Bird and Huck.

Her two grown kids and little granddaughter were there too so we each got a horse to groom, feed carrots too, scratch, love, and ride. There were even a few old red hens roaming around, all named Francis. One of the feathered cuties ran right up to me, didn't object to being picked up, and snuggled down into my arms clucking contentedly for a few minutes. (Johnny promised me I could get chickens at post, and I can't wait! We'll see how that works out...)

The sun was out and a frosty wind was blowing, thankfully I had pulled on my long underwear before leaving the apartment. (huh, I just realized this is the first apartment I've ever lived in, about time). The pastures were all still frozen when we got there, allowing for easier walking than in ankle-deep mud if the day had been warmer. The horses evidently had no problem finding some mud to roll in though as they were crusty and caked with it.

After lots of scrubbing, brushing and picking they were looking much better and were ready to stretch their legs on a mellow hour-long walk in the adjacent empty pastures surrounding the barn they're boarded at.

It was great. I think the last time I spent the day with a horse was in Nicaragua on a jungle ride, about 7 years ago. But Huck was a really sweet little Arabian with a nice walk, good manners, and a lovely trot. After an hour I felt my rhythm come back and think I was able to figure out Huck's style, at least he didn't seem too annoyed with me.

The dogs found some good horse poo to roll in and holes to sniff around. A big flock of honking geese flew overhead and a hawk swooped down into the meadow to grab a furry snack. Once the horses were de-saddled and put away, I looked down and realized my fingernails were dirty, my boots were caked with mud, I was covered in dust and smelled like hay and horses. Heaven. I haven't gotten dirty in quite a while and I look forward to blowing my nose tonight.

On the way home in the car with a warm little pooch snoozing on my lap I felt absolutely recharged. I felt grounded, I felt like myself again. What a difference a little time in the sticks makes.

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