Long, long ago, during those years that I fumbled my misfit way through high school, I worked in a womens accessories shop in a mall. You wouldn't have recognized me then. I wore form fitting skirts, nude-toe hose and very high-heeled, strappy sandals and stood on my feet with perfectly styled girlie-hair and dangling earrings for six to eight hour shifts. It was tiring, even for a young body.
During the frenzy of holiday shopping, there were days when I would work back to back shifts, especially on weekends, while trying also to fit in various functions and gatherings among family I was expected to attend. I credit this commercialized hysterically stressful time in my life with creating a sort of repugnant sensation that arises in me when the Christmas ditties begin playing and festive lights start flashing (these days beginning in November!) I'm not a Scrooge--I don't begrudge anyone their traditions--I just felt it was important to my sanity to get off that ship.
"Waterfalls and sunsets give you energy, power, and increased capacity. Crowded airports and traffic jams put your whole system on alert, drain your life force, and leave you exhausted."--Roger Jahnke, O.M.D. (The Healing Promise of Qi)
Living now in the "highlands" of the area once referred to as "Scotland" on Manitoulin Island, it is very easy to enjoy the holidays in a completely non-traditional manner. Kevin selects for us a nice Bordeaux and along with our usual gourmet vegan fare we toast the Winter Solstice. Christmas Day and New Year's Day may or may not have meals that are accompanied by the better wine. This year we were frugal and kept with the "cheaper" boxed, dark red table wine. Kev's doing a great job making Ravenseyrie Stout with his home-grown hops, maybe next year we will do what we keep saying we are going to do--make our own wine, too.
For the first time since having opened my gallery in the village I decided to close not only for Christmas and New Year's Day, but also for the week in between, like so many other island businesses do. I have not taken a vacation at all during the four years I've been operating the studio/gallery...it felt like I'd earned the time off, so at Kevin's urging, I went back to town and put up an edited "closed for the holidays sign that included all the long, luxurious days in between.
As you might guess, this means I've been spending a lot more time with the horses than I typically get to do during the winter months when the daylight hours are so fleeting and precious.
I took a lot of photos during my holiday break and of course I have uploaded more than a few to share here in the Journal of Ravenseyrie.
We'll begin with Christmas Day. "Family" for Kevin and me includes more than human beings, and we are fortunate to have such a large non-human family to share the holidays with. (We are also thankful to being able to connect with human family via the computer.)
"They are not my pets or my employees, they are my companions." --Kevin Richardson (Part of the Pride)
Tocara before and after:
Altamiro has been quite relaxed this winter and even has allowed the youngsters in his family band to co-mingle from time to time with those in Mistral's group. (But never, NO NEVER the mares.) At times it has almost looked like one large group, though one familiar with the subtleties of herd dynamics would note the unseen boundaries were still in force for the mares.
On Christmas day, after several hours of this type of co-mingling, Altamiro stood for a time contemplating how to break the news to everyone that the "party is over". I kid you not! I stood near him while he thoughtfully looked over the scene and then went into quick action, running over to where Tocara was grazing with Animado and Interessado and swiftly cut her out with just a toss of his head, then rough-housed a bit with the boys. The mares, already aware that it was time to head back to their northerly grazing area were off and running and soon Altamiro left the scene to join back up with them. Hope you can follow along below:
"I believe that there was an ancient knowledge that was lost that we are slowly rediscovering again on our own. It seems to be a shadow of a memory within us. It seems to be a growing yearning for a more harmonious existence within the world." --Michael Bevilacqua (Beyond the Dream Horse)
Mistral and Zeus, our two domestic horses are always glad to see Altamiro leaving the vicinity. These older geldings would rather not get on the wrong side of the young stud.
After Christmas, the island experienced a bona fide "January thaw". On December 29th, I took the pups down for a walk to see how things looked on the Ravenseyrie beach. I thought you might like to see too:
It typically isn't until January when Lake Huron freezes over, and then sometimes the ice holds the water hostage until April.
By New Year's Day most of our snow was gone and we had rain, rain and more rain. This allows us to see that underneath all that terrific winter hair, the horses still have very elegant forms.
"It is the unconditional respect for the inner and outer dignity of all beings, the recognition of a secret path in the existence of all creatures and the faith that these paths may intersect. Not following an order that appears absolutely stringent and logical to us humans, but following an order that teaches insight and wisdom." --Klaus Ferdinand Hempfling (It is Not I Who Seek the Horse, The Horse Seeks Me)
Encantara, and further down, Encantara and Fada:
The sun broke through the clouds as a cold front pushed into the region shortly before evening settled in. This March like weather experienced on January 1st, 2011 will be vastly different on January the 2nd.
I told you so!
Remember the canal you saw Encantara and Fada crossing...here's what it looks like today:
Very carefully, in single file, Mistral's group crosses the ice. The Ravenseyrie horses learn to negotiate all manner of terrain, even ice, safely.
The change in the weather is taken in stride by all of us, but none more than Maeb, a.k.a. "All Weather Maeb". A bit of snow and blow simply means that a game of RedBall! is all the more exciting!
"Health, well-being, and long life can only be achieved by remaining centered with one's spirit, guarding against squandering one's Qi, using breath and movement to maintain the free flow of Qi and blood, aligning with the natural forces of the seasons, and cultivating the tranquil heart and mind." --The Yellow Emperor's Classic Book of Medicine, Han Dynasty, 200 B.C.E.--220 C.E.
It's a new year! Create for yourself a year of beauty and good health!
Happy Holidays everyone!