Farewell to Summer
A cold acceptance
When I lived in New York, Autumn was the best time of year. The stuffy, sticky, sweaty Summer one day turned to the crisp, coolness of Fall. I loved bundling into my favorite sweaters and wearing the colors that looked best on me, the same colors of the leaves. Darkness descended earlier and the toss and turn of warm nights became blissfully cool and I could sleep again.
It felt like the perfect time for all of nature to let go of what was no longer useful and start fresh. Follow the example of the trees and let those old leaves go.
The thing is, letting go can be really hard.
Here in southern California, Autumn tends to be a little less predictable.
One morning, not long after we’d moved into our current barn, I was sitting on the barn steps enjoying a cup of coffee and a bite of breakfast while I watched Trudy amble around the corral. She especially enjoyed rolling and ensuring her nearly white coat was good and filthy.
At one point something down the driveway caught her attention and she started calling out in a way I had not seen her do before. She was running up and down the fence line, vocalizing, her eyes fixed on the same spot.
I couldn’t figure out what was causing such a reaction, so I got up and walked down the steps to see what she was seeing. In the distance I saw a woman, a visitor to the barn, who appeared to be getting a tour from the event manager.
The woman was an older woman, not very tall. She wore her blonde colored hair under a ball cap with her ponytail sticking out the back. It was clear to me that Trudy thought she knew this woman and was desperate to get her attention.
I suspected then, and I was able to confirm it later when I saw photos, that the woman bore a striking resemblance to Trudy’s original owner. The owner, who was in her eighties, had to let some of her younger horses go. One of those horses was Trudy.
You can say horses live in the moment and for the most part, they do. But it doesn’t mean they don’t remember. And it was clear that Trudy remembered, and loved, this woman.
Perhaps she thought this woman whom she had known since she was a baby horse, had come for her. And I felt her grief as the woman left without her. Didn't even acknowledge her. My heart broke watching Trudy’s reactions and I found myself standing there with tears running down my face.
There are some things you cannot explain. And some losses will forever feel inexplicable.
For both of my horses I empathize with the fear and grief they have experienced being sold and sent to new homes to live with strangers. Ty and I had an immediate bond but there was sadness about him for a long time after he arrived. He was loving, he was well behaved, but he was grieving.
I comfort myself with the knowledge that I love my horses and have ensured they receive the best of care. They are treated with loving kindness by everyone who looks after them. But I accept that some parts of them will always connect to a past I am not part of.
We have in the last few weeks experienced more death in my family and we find ourselves grieving as well. Though I completely understand the circle of life, with every loss, I still struggle.
I have found solace in my horses, and I think they find comfort in my steady presence as well. We each of us move on from our past to a present. And though the present may be beautiful, that does not mean we will not mourn for what once was.
As the Fall leaves drop, we move towards the rain and snow of Winter, washing away what has passed. We are blessed with long nights for mourning as we make our peace with the knowledge that we are forever changed. A cold acceptance.
But Spring will come, bringing with it new life and a fresh start.