This has been a hard winter. Snow fell just after Christmas and has lain on the ground since. At the new year, temperatures dropped into the single digits and only visited the teens on the occasional afternoon. Mornings dawned in negative numbers. Frost-free spigots froze. Black horses shimmered silver with daylong frost.
Before and after work, I hauled buckets of hot water from the house, up the icy path and down again, to supplement the efforts of tank heaters and a t-post dedicated to smashing rims of ice. On weekends, I managed to finish the new pasture fence — bundled in wool socks and ski pants and fleece and gloves that I changed periodically as they soaked through — so the horses could get out to play. I stacked a load of hay on a day so cold the snow wouldn’t stick to the bales. The physical effort was sufficient to keep me warm for reasonable periods. But riding? That wasn’t going to happen.
This has been a hard winter. I’m running this farm on my own again. What happened was a deep shock, like an earthquake that comes without warning and leaves devastation in its wake. Everything is stark. Bleak. The trees are stripped bare. Freezing fog muffles the view. Color vanishes beneath the bleaching, blinding snow.
Yesterday, it rained. Temperatures soared to mid-thirties. Earth appeared in a few places, like finger holes in a vast duvet. The blood of four lambs, slaughered last week, glistened in crimson pools that refused to sink. Then, overnight, it froze. Grief is like that. Anger, too. Today’s forecast is warm again. Drizzly. The kind of day that stirs together drift and berm and turns it all to frigid mud.
But warmer is warmer. Time takes winter with her, in the end. I want to ride again.