After years of horse care I can attest to a thing or two. One thing would be that frozen horse poop weighs less than non-frozen horse poop. Poopsickles - as I call them - make for much quicker cleanup than poop in any other season. So, you would think that would add to my joy of winter, right?
Er, wrong. Because despite the ease of certain aspects of winter mucking provides, the rest of the process simply bites.
Frozen water buckets, dirty ponies that won't be clean until at least March, fighting with blanket straps, numb fingers as you try to work gate latches, your runny nose, windburn, layer upon layer of clothing, sliding down the bunker ramp backwards with a barrel full of those poopsickles... Winter barn life is a comical pain in the ass and everyone hates it.
Yet we do it. Why? Because we love horses. We love how their breath crystallizes and hangs in the air on a winter morning. We love hearing them munch hay in the silence of a cold night. We love feeling their warmth under their fuzzy winter coats.
In winter more than any time of year my horse is a pet. We only ride on warmer days, he gives a lesson or two per week and pretty much just gets babied otherwise. I think my horse deserves this. He is a happy guy and likes to please. He has never been required to win ribbons or plow fields. I want him to enjoy life. I feel like that is the least I can do for a creature who brings ME so much joy...
And pretty soon we'll be munching on green grass again, poo will not be frozen and neither will my fingers!
The name of the holiday is Imbolc. Oh, you forgot there was a holiday coming up? We often do. I notice mostly that those of us in the colder zones of the
country tend to let this one pass right over. We are all too busy staying warm, cursing subzero, etc. This year, don't let it go by without at least a nod to the little holiday that reminds us we can indeed tough it out for just a little while longer.
Imbolc's roots are based around those very first signs that winter's hold is getting ever so slightly less tight
on the world. You would not know that here right now as the last few days have seen single digits and the nights have dipped to below the big O on the dial. Our water froze two nights ago. A problem we did not deal with even one time last winter if that tells you anything about the difference from year to year.
What can we do to give simple thanks to the constant changing of the seasons and the subtle shift in our lives even if it is mostly not noticeable? Well, if you feel like getting out there you could take a walk. Maybe after work if you are on a day shift sort of schedule because you will note that the days are just ever so slightly longer now and you'll still be able to get out there and enjoy some light. You could look for other tiny signs of the coming thaw and just acknowledge them. You could plant seeds indoors for herbs later. You'll nurture those seeds just like the sun will begin to nurture the earth soon. You could bake bread and think upon the harvests that you'll have in the coming seasons. You could light a candle, say a prayer for those
that are living in the harshness of winter's chill. You could build a fire and meditate on what you have accomplished so far this dark season. You could take that day to further work on whatever you are focusing on this season. It is still the time of inner work afterall.
There are lots of things you can do even if you are not into a full out ritual celebration. Be creative. Write some poetry - it doesn't have to be good! Feed wildlife on that walk if you take it. Make your pets something special and bless them for the coming spring. Sit down and come up with your goals for the season to come. Write them down and put them somewhere until the Spring Equinox. Bless them so that they will grow in your mind and heart and plan to read them on Ostara and begin your outer season work.
So, now you have over a week (as I am posting this on January 23rd) to think about NOT forgetting Imbolc this year! Good blessings to you and stay warm.
I have come to the point where I have extra time. I should be happy about this! We all feel we need more time, right? This is a good thing don't get me wrong. But it leaves me (and I feel others that have experienced it) a little off balance. We tend to want to fill that time with stuff, thereby eventually making ourselves once again short on time. Why is this?
For me it is probably because I am afraid to slow down due to the real possibility that I will just....stop. Stop shaving my legs, stop washing my hair, stop doing the dishes and eventually stop even getting out of bed and I will then become that crazy cat lady that Sam teases me about. LOL.
This is a deep rooted psychological thing for me. As a kid I was always told I didn't try hard enough, was too dreamy, I was possibly lazy and basically wasn't going to amount to much. I'm not saying this for a sympathy factor it is just reality. So, what I am getting at is that these are beliefs that stay with us and also often shape our actions and reactions.
This extra time I have is a marker of freedom for me. I am changing a lot of things about my life and the way I live it this year. I have flirted with this before but always ended up getting sidetracked and then eventually returned to the same, well traveled road that I am used to. This time, I have taken measures to ensure it doesn't happen. Many of them are a bit painful mentally. For instance, I just deleted an entire two year, very detailed account of my physical journey in an on-line community. Why? Because it was the only way I could truly be free for the other parts of myself to blossom.
And so since my physical self is taking a back seat, or at least a more appropriate place, I have all this additional time that was once spent in that community and others. What in the world is a girl to do? LOL.
Well, I have been sleeping more for sure. And cooking more. And of course working on this website more. I have been writing and Sam and I have done some hiking. And I am really trying to NOT fill this extra time with any set routine so that it will remain "free" time that I can do with whatever I want on any given day.