It’s been mighty quiet at Fiore Farms with this seemingly endless spell of heat, heat, heat. Last night I snuck out to ride Mystic in the twilight. We had a beautiful journey through the woods, fireflies lighting our way. The only thing marring it was Mystic’s attempts to swerve toward trees and run beneath low-hanging branches. I feel fairly certain he was hoping to knock me off—not typical behavior for him at all; he’s usually a perfect gentleman. But the heat has made him cranky lately, and I don’t really blame him.
Before our ride, while I was tacking Mystic, a rainstorm shook a few raindrops on us. It left a gigantic rainbow in its wake—maybe a peace offering for the weeks and weeks of sweltering weather. I grabbed my camera and caught the rainbow landing in the trees.
You can see James walking in the foreground, nearly unrecognizable without his trademark cowboy hat and jeans. He’d just finished mucking all the sheds and wasn’t exactly in a sky-gazing mood. But when I called out, “James, look—a rainbow!” he stopped and turned. A grin traveled across his face. “We’ve had a lot of rainbows lately. “
“It’s a good sign,” I said.
“I think so,” he agreed, then headed to the house to drink a gallon of water to replenish what he’d sweated out.
The rainbow lingered for a few more minutes, thinning and blurring, until it faded into the clouds.
When I looked at the photo on my computer that night, I noticed what I’d missed in real life: a second, paler rainbow, even bigger than the first.
Two good signs.
A few weeks ago I received an extraordinary gift from a Fiore Farms boarder, Margaret Bednar, who happens to be a phenomenal photographer as well as a thoughtful human being. She gave me a matted and framed photo of Mystic that she took last fall. Margaret is experimenting with large framed prints, with the intent of selling some. I was the lucky beneficiary of her first experiment; needless to say, the photo hangs in a place of honor in my house.
Margaret perfectly captured the essence of Mystic, from his solemn faraway gaze to his muscly wide-legged stance. The nuanced grays, blacks, and whites enhance his ethereal, old-soul presence. Every time I walk past the photograph, I fall in love with Mystic all over again.
The beauty of this black-and-white photograph got me thinking about my other favorite photos, taken by my sister Abigail. They capture the greatest love in my life—my son, Gabe, who turned 23 today. He told me this morning that he’s been thinking a lot about childhood memories and feeling a little sad. Why? I asked. “Because I’ve realized they’re just memories—that you can’t go back.”
It’s true: you can’t go back, but you can treasure photos of stolen moments, fleeting smiles, glimpsed spirits, allowing you to collapse time and live in the eternal country of the heart.
There’s been a North Carolina heat wave in the last few days—Friday topped the charts at 104 degrees. Today reached almost 100 degrees, but that didn’t get in the way of lessons at Cooler Horsemanship. James and his students got started at 8 AM to beat the full-bore heat. I sat in the relative coolness of the grandstand, bottle of ice water in hand, and marveled at the tenacity of horses and horse people. By 10 AM I headed home to central air conditioning, but James and his students were still going strong. Hats off to all of you!
Nancy and Joker practice lunging
Kim and her daughters with their Rocky Mountain Horses (Freedom, left, and Rhett)
Emy gives Freedom the signal to back up—a wiggling lead rope
The chaps must go on, even in a heat wave
Shelby (left) and Hope join the fun in the arena
Ila with an elevated Rhett
Chillin’ on the pedestals