We had visitors this weekend, Pat and Lloyd who are friends from Minnesota. I wish the weather had given them more contrast, more of what they most likely wanted — warmth. It was not warm yesterday; not by Florida standards, not by any standard, relative or absolute, with any sense of where warm starts and cold leaves off. I felt badly, as if the weather were mine to offer, like cookies and tea. Friends don’t hold you responsible for the weather, though, and friends from Minnesota are especially adaptable to a brisk day. Plus, it was a great excuse to light a fire in the fireplace.
I know Pat the best. We are friends and it is our husbands who tag along. Lloyd grew up on a farm and now, here we are, playing at having a farm. He and Gordy talked tractors and it made me smile deep in my heart to see them comparing notes. Personally, I think there are not enough opportunities in daily interactions to talk about tractors. Pretty sure the world would be a better place if there were more.
Pat is a keeper of abundant and diverse knowledge, having journeyed down many intriguing paths, some of which I have also explored. Our intersection has many crossroads, but the most significant are that we both hold great love and respect for animals as sentient beings and also we both have an aching awe of the mysteries of energy as a form of connection and healing. I have perhaps pushed a bit farther down that first path. Pat has been more structured about the latter. She is a nurse from way back, but it is being a practitioner of cranial sacral work that now feeds her soul. That is some cool stuff. I got into doing Reiki energy work, becoming a Reiki Master; Pat and I even practiced together for a bit. But, at some point I digressed or found something else to pursue and now that whole body of work lies buried within me.
I like to think I am still a practitioner of energy work, though. I call it living with animals. Every day I practice. Every day I learn. So do they – the dogs, the horses, and donkeys. We are all both students and practitioners. That is why having Pat and Lloyd here made me so dang happy and why the weather was such a bother to me – because I wanted to share space with the animals, to be at the barn and out in the pasture where all good energy work takes place. It all worked out. Funny how that happens when you let go and follow where it takes you.
The dogs were, of course, delighted to have visitors; the kind of visitors who don’t mind getting hairy or being licked or having their feet sat upon.
Sophie kept her distance, but went willingly with us to the barn and walking the property. That is Sophie’s way and we all respected that.
In the early morning, I had invited the horses into their stalls for reprieve from the brisk wind that had been slapping at them through the night. But, it was getting sunny by the time Pat and Lloyd arrived and I was worried that the tribe would be restless after being cooped up half the day. It was an assumption proved wrong by the yawning, stretching, and slow blinking that greeted us when we slipped through the barn doors.
Within the big horse tribe, Andante is the undisputed leader. Heck, Andante is the undisputed leader of the entire tribe, ourselves included. She, like Sophie, can be aloof about newcomers, perhaps because she has no need to suck up: she gets whatever she wants, regardless. Like any creative leader, Andante always has a new angle up her proverbial sleeve — when she chooses. In this case, she was all over Pat’s good woman energy the minute we walked in the barn. I said nothing. Andante just sent her energy out and Pat knew who to go to first. Even when Beamer pounded his stall door for attention (you know, the kid wildly raising his hand in class — pick me! Pick me!), Pat knew the place to be and to be damn appreciative about it, too.
After a time, we opened all of the stall doors and casually moved the party outdoors. Pat and Lloyd handled this like troopers, walking amidst the horses (or being stalked by them) through the gate and out into the open pasture. Beamer thoughtfully explained to Pat why she should have picked him.
Legs and Loosa tag-teamed Lloyd. He’s a farm guy; they figured he was up for it.
The horses finally drifted away from us and we from them and, as we walked the big pasture, the dogs loped big circles ahead of us, hoping a squirrel was foolish enough to be lolling around on the ground. We talked and walked an ambling path which lead us in and out of the energy bubble of the horses who had now gotten down to the business of grazing. Each time we intersected, one or another would saunter over with personal greetings, happy for the connection with kindred spirit.
That is the best feeling, truly, when a horse at complete liberty and with a thrumming desire to feed its belly, turns instead to you and says, hey, let’s hang out together for a bit. It is being chosen in a way that is exponentially more powerful than you would expect; enough to make up for all of the times you were ever not picked in life, even the ones you once though mattered. Especially those.
Our time with Pat and Lloyd was brief and before we knew it, whoosh, they were gone, leaving us to ruminate about the day and what made it feel so nourishing. I would say this: I am filled up by the way we are able to live together and cozy with the animals. I am even more filled up by the chance to share that with others, to see others drawn in by the energy of that belongingness. I surely felt that way around Kate and Bill’s visit several weeks ago, and when the little girls visit from over the fence, and this visit rang with the same tone. If you feel any of this just by seeing the pictures, then I know that, if you ever visited, you would leave with a soft and happy smile on your face and your soul would carry the imprint of it, the imprint made by the gentle touch of a horse’s muzzle on your cheek. And you would be changed.
So, it was a happy day yesterday and it is a happy day today because I am now trying to find the words that suit it, that express its meaning to me. The weather is improved and I have let the tribe wander freely, including into the back yard. Molly has had her bath and now lies drying in the sunshine behind me, keeping watch (as best a nearly deaf and nearly blind old pup can do such things).
The horses discovered the back yard opportunity early and have dominated my view for most of the afternoon.
But, the donkeys have been frequent visitors, as well, and their lovely energy has been quite welcomed.
I am considering all that goes into keeping this place going, keeping the animals feeling well; all the ways I feel connected to them and I want to talk more about that. BJ says he can sum it up for me in one statement:
He’s right, you know. Donkeys never lie.