Thursday, September 10, 2009

Horse Farm Babies

    Whew, going through photo boxes and albums the other day, the waves of memories were overwhelming. My friend Kathleen said, "Leave it for your kids to go through." But there are stories here and I'm a storyteller. Maybe it has to do with my long ago Cherokee genes, they were great storytellers, too.
    I've been a great believer in dreams, not ones that you have when sleeping, but dreams of what you want in life, what makes you happy. Since before I can remember, I've been obsessed with horses. My mother told me as a three year old, I would sit in a corner of the room and pretend clothes pins were my horses. In high school, when my friends got their drivers license they were excited to drive to the beach and hang out. Me, I drove to the Irvine Buffalo Ranch, took horseback riding lessons, helped feed and water the horses, cleaned stalls and drank in the smells and dreams of my own horse ranch.
    After college and much hated office jobs, my family doctor treating me for an ulcer, told me to stop making my parents happy with their expectations and go to Colorado, get a job on a dude ranch where I could be happy wrangling horses. Man that was a real shock to my system. Cried many tears of fear that I could actually do it, but I did just that.
    The Tumbling River Dude Ranch in Grant, Colorado, is where I landed. It was a small ranch - only 42 guests at a time. As the new wrangler, I asked Ray, the old head wrangler, what horse he wanted me to have to lead the trail rides. He laughed and said, "Pick any one out there."

    There was a stout buckskin that caught my eye, but not my rope. I followed that horse around for what seemed like an hour. It was quite the game, just when I'd get close enough to touch him, off he'd go around the corral... again. Finally I cornered him in an open stall, but that was only the start of my troubles with that horse. He spooked at everything, a rock, the wind through the trees, a cracking stick under his feet. His nose would go right up in the air and he'd wildly try to run. Now how can you run on a narrow mountain trail looking up on the sky? I rode that horse every day, leading rides, tailing rides. Put a tie-down to hold his head down helped somewhat, but I never got use to the sash-shays along trail.

    Halfway through the summer, Ray gave me my first spurs and said I'd earned them. I was hooked on horses even stronger then.

    That's my son, Jeremy, when he was 11 with the first foal born on our farm, Darq Sirocco, a black Arabian. Can't you see the champion that he later became? The horse and my son, both winners. The top photo is Jerry Sindt, trainer, with Sirocco winning a National Championship.
    Life happens in it's own time-frame. I was 32 when I finally bought my first horse, 38 when I bought my horse farm in Scholls, Oregon. By chance, my horses won in the Arabian show ring — big. Their babies won even more. It was a great life for myself and my two children.
    This is my daughter, Diane, on Champion Darq Moon. This was the first horse I bought. We called her "Suzie." Don't ask, because we don't know why. That's just who she was to us.
    The palomino mare above is Penny, a Saddlebred/Arabian cross who didn't have a baby who wasn't a champion at the horse shows. The baby by her side was one of my favorites, Wind Dancer. As soon as she could stand up, she was dancing, racing, prancing in style.

    I miss them all, through Mt. St. Helen's eruption and the ensuing ash, to the  difficult decision to sell them so they could fulfill their destiny. But they are all there in my memory, their smell, the sound of munching alfalfa and grain, their funny baby antics, their beautiful eyes, their trust. It's all there, just as though I can reach out and touch them... one more time.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Double Exposure in Alaska and in Life

Leaving our ship on a small tender boat towards the town of Juneau, Alaska, gave way to nervousness for I was scheduled to fly on a small helicopter out to the glacier fields nearby. Jeremy, my son, was a calming influence that summer so long ago. 

Before we left, the tour guide dressed us up in Mukluk boots and heavy coats. Into the helicopter and off we go, several  copters following one after another, looking like a swarm of wasps flying in wavy patterns. 

Landing on the ice, we were sternly warned not to go near the ice holes for some go down hundreds of feet. Not a good place to slip or slide. All the helicopters left and we stayed with a guide... all alone... on the ice. Sort of scared to move around much, but just looking at that beautiful glacier was an exhilarating feeling. The walls of ice that surround us were an iridescent blue/green with an eerie sort of translucence. The ice floor we were standing on was glazed in the sunshine. Minuscule ice fragments hit our checks in pinpricks when the wind would flair up. It was very quiet except for an occasional startling booming crack as the ice gave way to pressure and tumble down upon itself.

I'm not sure if it was a low camera battery in combination with the cold weather, but I was shocked and disappointed when I developed my film to find so many double exposures. Then I looked again and was totally excited because the tender boat was superimposed on the ice walls, our friend's face in a square and my son walking on the ice. Three different times during the day, truly combining all the emotions of that experience. 
Another one had our pilot's hand holding the spiral corded microphone strung out over a girl waving and the surrounding ice fields. Again three different times of the day. 

The photo of Glacier Bay captured the crew going out in a small boat to gather ice to carve later. The window of the bar where I took the picture wanders through the mountains of ice and in the lower corner navigating the floating ice was the boat.

Every time I look at these photos, I see something different. Looking deeper, just like in life. Layers of a day revisited. All at the same time capturing a flood of memories together... in one glance. 

Put all this to haunting classical music and to me, that's what life is all about - fractured segments overlapping
layers of exposures, layers of memories.

Just to let you all know, I was snapping pictures, writing and drawing in the nice warm bar...