I wake to gun shots, hard smacking blasts again and again. Just barely dawn, the clouds are tufted grey in the eastern sky when I pull up the window shade. Walking into the study, I hear birds calling. I go out on the porch to drink my cappuccino and hear more gun shots, this time from the west. Waterfowl hunting season opened this morning. Black ducks, mallards, wood ducks and mergansers. Canada geese and snow geese. Harlequin ducks appear to be off-limits, according to the Fish and Game website. My house is surrounded by ponds, brooks and a lake, all within a mile, so this is familiar, waking early in the fall, just before sunrise, to gunshots. A goose honks as it flies over the house.
When we got up this morning, there was fog rising from the fields around the house. It had rained again overnight, pools of water on the porch floor and the furniture on the deck. By the time our cappuccino was ready and we were out on the porch, the fog had cleared.
“Look at the sun on the horses,” David said. The roof line of the house threw a shadow across the small dirt road into the corner of pasture. The horses stood just past the line, in the sunlight, heads down, eating.
I’m happy they’re back. The pasture was empty for a few weeks, eaten out in this dry summer. There’s been just enough rain from storms in the past week to get some grass up again. Years ago, there was a dairy herd across the street. After the herd was sold, a succession of farmers pastured smaller herds in the field, then the young men who bought the farmland kept a few steer. The cows often clustered in the corner of the pasture right across from the porch in the evenings, when I would get home and sit and watch. Were they greeting me, or catching the last of the sun that hit the small rise on the far eastern edge of the field?
Now we have horses to watch. “Horses are magical,” my friend Marsie told me, and knowing Marsie, I expected what I found when I looked into what she meant. Epona was a Celtic horse goddess, linking the horse, the divine and the feminine at a time when women and horses were sacred, honored, and free.
The horses were grazing in our corner again this evening, when we ate dinner on the porch. Lit by the low sun behind him, one of the horses started to walk towards us, his tan and white body swaying as he planted each of his heavy feet. He looked up at us, his mane ruffling around his face, then dropped his head into the field, continuing to eat.