Life on the mountain.
At times she will comfort us, heal us from our pain, wash away our sorrows.
Other times, she will challenge us, strengthen us in finding our resolve.
And at all times, we are reminded that although we live upon her, feed off her, feel for her, she remains unaffected, untouchable, and above us all. The wind will blow, the snow will melt, the river will rise. We can look upon these things with fear and trepidation. Or we can accept, learn to flow, learn to float. I am only learning.
Life on the mountain.
There’s no 9 to 5 here. We schedule and plan and prepare and consider. Filled with self discipline, for there is no one on the mountain to scold me for me being late for chores except the horses. I strive to find order in the natural world. But she reminds us our order is man made. The order of the natural world revolves unaffected by our clocks and calendars we hold on to like a life line.
Some days are just that way. Some days the mountain teases us just a little more, reminding us how powerless we are over so much up here, yet how determined we are to survive. And at the end of the day, a day like yesterday, we can sit back and smile and know that yes, it’s true, we have no control over the mountain. But can we handle it? Can we deal with whatever she throws at us, tests us with, challenges us with? Of course. And more often than not, we’ll love it.
Every year is different. This is the end of another winter on this mountain. Day in, day out, we have watched the snow pile, the snow melt, the waters rise, the waters level out. Not just from the front porch of our cabin. We are out there. Working the land, enjoying the land, trying to understand the land.
We do learn, but still, the mountain humbles us. She throws us surprises. She reminds us that although we are lucky enough to live with her, we do not own her, we do not control her. We take nothing for granted.
Some days it’s like driving that old pick up. Every time I’d turn the key if the engine started, I’d let out a heavy sigh. And every time I’d break down (and I did a lot), I’d roll my eyes and take it in stride, and more often than not, find some good in every adventure that broke down truck would bring me.
You know what it’s like. Those times when it’s one thing after another. Not bad stuff, just stuff. And then we find ourselves tired. But there’s not always a chance to rest in order to recover. Sometimes, more often than not, we just get over it.
Get over it, because there is always something. And no one else to deal with it except you. And would you have it any other way? Probably not.
The first surprise was our water line freezing. Our main water line which we use to bring water from our spring to our storage tank, and from the storage tank, we have water in our cabin and for the horses. Why now? You would have guessed that would happen earlier in the season (as it has on other years). So, we’re out there in the warmest part of the day (and it actually got over 30 yesterday) rolling out black plastic pipe and all the hoses on the ranch to make it from our spring house to our storage tank.
There’s no shortage of water on the mountain at the moment. Just a little problem in getting it where we can use it.
In fact, there’s a bit of an abundance of water flowing now. So much so that in the evening, while I was doing chores and leading Tres and Artemis back to the Rancho DeLuxe for the night, Bob zips up on the ATV and calls for Forrest and me. Says we have got to come see this…
We get on the ATV with him, drive down that new road we put in to the Little Cabin by the Big River, and see that there’s this river forming, just along side the road, fortunately for the most part, off the road construction we did last fall. And the water is rushing. It’s about 10 inches deep in places, and I have no doubt wide enough to be considered a good creek. Only it’s going down our pasture. And because of the snow and slush and ice still there, the flow in this “creek” is blocked at times, and well, what can I say… it was a mess.
I walked back up the hill to our cabin to get a fire going and dinner started, as the boys stayed down there until the sun went down, shoveling and battling with the chunks of slush, trying to direct the flow of water to prevent further erosion and damage on this little bit of land we try to claim as our own.
And as I was out there, staring at the mountain looming so majestic over our home, you know, everything still felt right. These things remind us how we can bounce back. It gets me up and out into the woods to work on the spring; or down the pasture to see our little cabin by the big river. It forces you to just get over it, get on with it, and in the process, enjoy it.
We bounce back. We recover. We move on. We get the job done. We have a purpose. And in everything we do on the land, on the mountain, the purpose is so clear. The results are so direct. Every shovel full of dirt gets us one step closer to the never ending struggle of surviving in the mountain. And we know it will never end; there will always be more and more and more to do. So we learn to love shoveling, if you know what I mean. Learn to love the process. Not just the goal or final product.
Always something. Some days are just that way. And then there we were at noon time, the three of us sitting on the steps to the deck having lunch and getting nibbled by the inquisitive little foal who is just learning to feel confident enough to step away from her mama.
Would I trade it for an office job? Security, safety, schedules that can be counted on, clocks that hold a meaning, a “day off” without ever having to get out there to do, fix, repair, feed, care for …? Nope, you wouldn’t get me to trade this lifestyle for anything.