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February 3, 2010

Me and My Shadow

The daylight is returning, and with it my sense of optimism. It begins to waver in mid-November, and returns about this time of year. This has led me to believe that I have a light-dependent soul. I also get to feeling claustrophobic when the sun sets around 4 p.m. because I then I realize that I’m going to be sitting around in the dark for another 6 hours, that is if I decide to go to bed at 10 p.m. Now the sun’s setting at 6 p.m., and this is far easier for me to deal with.

The sun’s now at a low angle, casting long shadows when I ride. I can actually see what gait the horses are in. And in the early evening, the sun’s a fireball in the sky, which makes me feel like I really am riding off into the sunset. I remember bicycle touring in New Zealand and Australia. The sun seemed to drop abruptly out of the sky, leaving me in the dark. I then had no time to set up camp. This happened fairly frequently because I could not get used to it.

Yesterday I took Raudi for a late afternoon ride. Someone had left a snowmobile by the side of the trail. Raudi and her shadow let it be known to me that this object’s sudden appearance was unacceptable, by stopping and backing. I didn’t get off. Rather I looked to where I wanted to go, and did “come on,” come on with my legs. Raudi complied, and walked nicely down an adjoining trail with her shadow following suit.

A few minutes later we came to the place in which the trail and road are separated by a six-foot snow berm. I wanted to sit for a bit and figure out what we might do next. The berm has, with increased snowfalls, been growing, and now is about six feet in height. I cannot see over it from the top of Raudi’s back. I had no time to think. Raudi took it upon herself to plunge into it. I grabbed the saddle strap as she went up and over it. Once she got to the far side, she snorted and shook herself off. I promptly gave her a treat. I should have held off, but it was an instance in which her bravery trumped my indecision. Had she planted her feet and refused to move, I either would have had to spend time coaxing her to go over it, or gone back the other way. Both would have been time consuming. I didn’t have a whole lot of time because the day was getting on.

I was also eager to get out on the upper road and work on walk-trot-canter transitions. I got my wish. Raudi and I worked together, both of us concentrating on the task at hand. I, my horse, and walked the last quarter of a mile home, in the light of the setting sun.