I’m sweaty, covered in chaff and grass and bug bits and residual sunscreen. In spite of the sunscreen, I’m probably burned. I’m thistle-pricked and my eyes feel gritty. There’s dirt under my nails and motor oil on my jeans. I’m tired and I smell like work. And I feel refreshed and rested at a deep soul level.
The soul needs cleansing from the rush and maze of life, and after many consecutive days working in a little tourist town, I was simply aching for the outdoors! A few weeks ago, I took a second job in Hill City, so now I work morning and early afternoon at the Mercantile and at 3:00 I head over to the Farmer’s Daughter and work there until 7:00 or 8:00. Don’t get me wrong, I am very thankful for the work that God has provided so quickly in our new life here. But I am a dedicated introvert. Being around people that long drains me. And I mean drains me.
So yesterday, I was only scheduled at the Mercantile and made my plans accordingly. All day long, I looked forward to getting home, catching the horses and going out on a ride. So that is exactly what I did. In case you might think I’m just an out-and-out cowgirl now, I need to clarify–Horses are a fear I’m working on conquering. I love the animals. I love the feel of a good ride. The smell of horse, the sway and movement of the saddle, and the rush of energy while riding a working cow pony, when the animal gets eager and excited to be doing work. But horses are big. They are independently-thinking creatures who really have no good reason to let a human being climb on their back, must less to remain there. Maybe I just have a good appreciation for that fact right there–If this 1000 pound animal suddenly ceased wanting me on its back, it could remove me. And quickly, too.
However, yesterday I managed to make steps in conquering my trepidations and took Frosty out on a ride. Jimmy came, too–Can’t let his girlfriend leave without him! And I do believe the horses enjoyed it. And Frosty loves to run. I’m too cautious of a rider to just let her go full throttle…Not to mention, she has a stubborn streak and has tried to buck me off, once-upon-a-time. If she had really wanted to buck me, she could have, but she bucked hard enough to make me a little careful with her. But either way, there are just too many trees, holes, fences, rocks, even when in an open meadow, to let her go full tilt, but she got some of her energy out. And it was a beautiful afternoon for it. We weren’t out that long, maybe forty five minutes, but when I started hearing thunder I thought it wise to head back. There were other places I wanted to go, but Frosty is a tall horse and is a little hard to mount if she isn’t standing quite still. Which she usually is not. Too many fences to open and close. I decided to leave further exploring for another day. Anyway, it was a good way to end my afternoon.
A short photographic excursion followed the ride…It has been so wet lately, the cow pies are all sprouting mushrooms. And they are surprisingly pretty mushrooms, especially considering the mundane nature of their host…And it just keeps getting wetter–We had an inch of rain last night, some hail, and a marvelous thunder storm. Starting to wonder where all the water will go.
There is a shack out in the corrals that is mostly tumbled down now, but the remnants of a dirt-moving business are left piled inside. Old dynamite casings. I was actually able to get a good picture of them–In the last month or so, one of the walls fell in, so it is actually possible to climb in without bringing the whole shack tumbling down on top of you!
Finally, today I headed to Jack’s to mow. He’s got a big place, and the mowing took me a solid five hours, and I weeded for another hour or so. It was warm, but there was intermittent cloud cover and a gentle breeze. Not to mention, the breeze while riding a zero turn mower keeps a body pretty cool! Sometimes I still get a chuckle over my radical shift in direction. I never would have thought three years ago that I’d be graduated college and mowing for a local rancher. Just wouldn’t have occurred to me.
When I came home this afternoon from Jack’s, I passed a vehicle pulled off to the side of the road with the flashers on. I turned around and came back to see if they were having car problems. No car trouble. Just a photo shoot. They were apparently tourists getting pictures of the beautiful scenery. There was a little rush of delight when I realized it–This is the view they were enjoying, a view of the Adrian ranch. It brought back all the excitement of moving out here, the excitement that has almost become normal. It reminded me just how glad (it seems too drab a word to use) I am to be out here. It reminded me that God knows our hearts and, while he doesn’t answer every dream or prayer in the way we think he should, he does, I believe, give us desires for reasons, and I was struck once again by how amazing it is that a little girl’s dream of South Dakota should become a reality fifteen years later. God is good.
After five and a half years of college, five and a half years of working my brain, hard work feels good. The smell of work is sweet. And I’m realizing in many ways that my soul truly feels cleansed when I am surrounded by the beauty of God’s creation, exhausted by blessed hard work, sore and dirt-covered, and breathing the fresh air of wide open spaces.
Horses-beautiful powerful creatures. Great. Gorgeous. Amazing. Dangerous. All of these words describe these creatures that have almost a magnetic draw for women. Their strength is reassuring and frightening. Yet, they still give us a glimpse of true freedom.