Waiting in Stillness for the Storm

Stormy Sky One

I waited for the storm throughout last night, my sleep smothered by the humidity that had invaded the house.  Nothing came. Not the storm. Nor the sleep.

I  gave up trying for sleep at six this morning, dressed and went outside into the stillness.  No wind from any direction. It was like the storm was waiting, holding back or being held back. A leaf on the giant tree in our backyard moved from the flap of a birds wing.  Even their song was muted. Eerie. My skin crawled. On this day, my world is too still.  Too quiet. I hold my breath too.  The suspense builds. The tension straining.

Stormy Sky Two
The horses, Charlie, Sonia and Maggie are locked up in the barn, munching on one of the last bales of hay from last summer’s crop. Chewing helps keep them calm. They don’t like storms any more than me. I left the lights on in the barn to diminish the shock of lightning and thunder and wind if it comes. When it comes.

Weather radar puts us in a red zone. Severe thunderstorms, high winds, hail, maybe even tornados.  The hay in the field has been cut. It lays in flat rows to dry. Then it will be raked into a continuous braided row that spirals inward to the middle of the field. The rake lifts the hay off the ground and flips it to dry the underside, preparing it to be baled.

The baler picks up the hay, smashes it into flakes and ties it into square bales. If the wind blows hard, the braid will be broken, scattering the hay haphazardly in the field, making it difficult for the baler to scoop it up.

If it rains before the hay can be baled, the water will leach out the nutrients, turning the hay from luscious green to lifeless grey.  The heavier the rain, the more life is drained away.

We grow organic hay for our horses, a lovely mix of grass with a bit of alfalfa.  If the hay is not dried when it is baled, it will mold–creating a toxic feed for any horse. Only cows will be able to eat it without getting sick, but we don’t have any cows.

The words “Make hay while the sun shines” run through my brain.  This is the first cutting, always the biggest of any season. The drought-diminished harvest of last year is all but gone. We need this hay.

Stormy Sky ThreeBut will the rain come too soon and ruin the hay for my horses?  Will it rain heavy? Or will it just sprinkle and skip over us as it has so many times before when big storms have been predicted?

There’s no way of knowing.  There’s just the waiting.  And the praying.  A tension that makes my skin crawl and boggles my mind, making the time unusable for anything but worry.

And so I wait in the stillness for the storm.  And pray it doesn’t come.  Not today.  Not tomorrow.  Not until the hay is baled and put under cover and all the animals are safe inside. Then, let the rain come. But not today.



War Horse

My youngest teacher, Maggie.

Greg and I went to see  the new Steven Spielberg film WAR HORSE after putting it off for weeks.  I did the same with his movie about the holocaust.  I knew it would touch me deeply and I needed to wait until I was ready to take it all in.  The images of kindness and abuse will stay with me for a long time.  I learned more about the stupidity of war with his honest portrayal of the English and the Germans in World War I through the eyes of this magnificent steed.

My horses are very important in my life.  They are my teachers,  guiding me, comforting me and making me laugh. In my books (yet to be published), I tell their stories braided with mine…our victories and tragedies interlaced.

I am working on a new series of blogs exploring the relationships we have with the natural world, especially with horses.  They help us stay sane in a crazy world.  Their communications are subtle.  We need to be still to hear them.  I have an advantage over most people because we live close to nature, away from the distractions of city life.  It’s important to bring their quiet lessons to this time of politics and war and recession.  I love a good conversation.  I hope you will join with me in sharing our stories of the small moments in our days.

Keep a look out.  It will begin soon.

Also, check out the free iPAD app from the movie.