Posted by: highmountainmuse | February 9, 2009

Lessons learned by looking through the window

Anticipation of seasons keeps us forever looking forward to the next. But how foolish we can be to forget the here and now! Today I saw patches of dirt beneath the shade of the Spruce trees, and I longed for Spring, for dry ground and riding horses along these same trails. And as I walked, snow started to fall, lightly at first, then stronger so that I could not see to the end of the woods. It began to gently dust the brown and green and grey with its silvery touch, a promise of the heavy white fresh coat I am certain that covers our mountain by this morning (it is still too dark to see), this new storm rolling in to remind us we have many months to go before we will be walking on dry dirt up here…

Just as the dirt begin to show, a new storm arrives.

Just as the dirt begin to show, a new storm arrives.

But subtle signs of spring still come to our mountain, even now. This is the time of year the Aspen shoot out their new growth, with glossy dark red tips popping out from the end of every grey stalk.  Although the leaves will not open until about the first of June, now is the season their branches grow, a delicate but splendid development I wonder how many of us notice.

New life grows from the branches of the Aspen in Februrary.

New life grows from the branches of the Aspen in Februrary.

It is the time of year that I start itching to ride. Until we gather the junk/recycled materials needed to build that covered riding arena I’ve been hoping for, our winter conditions do not allow for riding. I see how hard it is for my horses to get around on their own; I know they don’t need me on their back.  I can wait.  Foaling season is right around the corner, and warmer afternoons will be here even sooner – the best time to spend on groundwork training.


In the meanwhile, we enjoy the interaction we are allowed with these remarkable animals.  My kitchen window is my wide screen TV – the horses are finishing their breakfast as I do the dishes each morning.  All day long, even on the coldest of days when we are unable to be out there with them longer than it takes to put out food and water, from one window or another, we are able to observe them at rest, play, feeding, sleeping, bickering, flirting, pestering…


One day last week at lunch, we watched as the two weanlings, always up to a little romp in the afternoons, decided the coyote who takes his stroll along the pasture same time every day, would be fair game.  Mind you, one of these weanlings so enjoys the sport of chasing, that poor old Alan Shepherd no longer ventures out into the corrals, even when I go to feed. It is a job he has graciously bowed out from, tired as he is of being chased relentlessly by this filly.

Another storm comes in with the horses.

Another storm comes in with the horses.

Well, these two little rascals thought this coyote would be fun sport, and after him they ran, busting through the fresh powder, post holing in almost to their bellies, snow flying up behind them in dramatic rooster tails.  Following closely was dear ol’ dad, the stallion, Flying Crow; and before too long, the mama mares all followed, slower for some than others, with their bellies full with this coming season’s foals.


That coyote had been passing the same time, same place for several weeks.  For the most part, the horses ignore him.  They rarely raise their head to look at him, and he walks by them, even through them, without conflict or interest on either side.  I thought perhaps after having been chased by a herd of crazy beasts as he was that day, he would choose to steer clear for a while, but today I notice he passed by, again unnoticed and undisturbed.


The resilience of nature, forgiveness, or the sheer joy of play… what lesson am I allowed today?



  1. Maybe the coyote was lonesome and he was willing to put up with the antics of the young horses to be able to have some companionship.

  2. The horses look great. I know they get tender loving care.

  3. Spoiled? You bet!
    They are quite amazing how they put up with the winters here.

  4. I’m catching up on reading now that we’re back from our vacation in Wyoming. You had me laughing out loud thinking about the horses and the coyote. I had the pleasure of watching a coyote pounce on a mouse in the snow while we were in Wyoming. He was so proud of himself and kept looking around as if he wanted to make sure his buddies saw it, too!

    This also reminds me of when Ron and I were at Yellowstone several years ago. We were on a trail heading down to some waterfalls when we met the most beautiful doe coming up the trail. I stopped to let her pass but she had found something on the ground just a few feet away from me and started eating (a mushroom). It was late September and I didn’t want to scare her away from the delicacy she had found so I stood still right where I was and watched her eat. It was so amazing, I was so close to her I could hear her breathing, sniffing, chewing. I could even see tiny scars on her legs. It was so awesome to share this moment with her and I will never forget it. I remember other people coming down the trail and just taking a little detour from her so they could get on with their hike. Not me, to me this was living life and I took this wonderful gift of nature and enjoyed every moment of it. You know, we never made it to those falls but it didn’t matter, we were there to experience nature and that is certainly what we were blessed with that day!

  5. Your story about the doe – beautiful – no doubt, it’s not about getting to the waterfall. If you remain focused on the goal alone, you miss out on living, on all the beauty in between. A perfectly told tale reminding us that life is about the journey. I think of how many times my focus and drive overtake my ability to take a minute to look around. And then I see that everything I’ve been rushing to achieve is already right here. If I rush to the goal, I’ve missed it all. Then I’m there just looking around to see where I need to rush off to next…

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