Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Light and shade.

There has been a death in the family. It was very sudden, and it is very sad.

There is the usual sense of rupture, of wrongness. The world should not exist without this person in it.

There is the usual daily papering over the cracks. We are, in very British fashion, carrying on. I do not mean that other nationalities do not carry on, or that they fall to the floor, ululating. It just feels like a very British thing to do. It is there, the loss, in batsqueaks. It is there in small pauses, sideways glances, moments of still. It remains, mostly unspoken, humming in us.

The sun shines, with steady, determined, yellow warmth. It shone like this when my father died, which was three years ago next week.

I think: one death is all deaths. All the Dear Departeds line up, close in my heart. One death is all mortality. I think: send not to know for whom the bell tolls.

Then I go down to the field and work the mare. She is light as air, soft as silk. We free-school in a way we have never done before, so relaxed and in tune that I shout out loud into the bright air. She looks at me as if to say: you didn’t think I had that in me, did you?

We go for a ride.

There have been thoughts to think and things to do and arrangements to make. I have not ridden for two days. I wonder, as I get on, if there will be a little spring fever, or just general thoroughbred high spirits. I sit deep in the saddle and give her a loose rein and trust her, and there she goes, with her glorious aristocratic neck stretched out and her ears pricked and not a bother on her.

We have one of the best rides we have ever had, and my heart lifts in gratitude and love.


Today’s pictures are a little photo essay, of a moment with the horses, and of going back to the fundamental things, which is what I always do at times like this. Watch an animal, being itself; look at a bud, a flower, something as humble and actual as a patch of moss and grass and stone. Go back to the true and the real, as unreality plucks at one’s shoulder.

After the ride:

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Then a nice long cool-down and a little amuse-bouche:

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At which point the sweet Paint does one of her step by step stealth moves, to see if she might be allowed some:

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If I just stand here, very still, she might not notice:

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She notices:

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And then decides perhaps she has made her point:

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And will graciously allow her small friend to lick the bowl:

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Which she does:

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Whilst Red has some of the good hay brought by the kind farmer:

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Another moment of hope from the filly:

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Then she thinks better of it, and takes herself off:

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Watched by Red, who is the lead mare, after all, and must keep a close eye on her precious charge:

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A nice, cool drink:

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And I look around, at the green things, at the growing things, at the living things:

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At the simple things:

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  1. Sincere condolences to you and yours. It is that time of life now, beautiful and fine and studded with sharp loss.

  2. Sorry for your loss, beautifully written.Lovely photographs of simple pleasures.


  3. I'm sorry for your loss, Tania. Such a lovely post and visual story of Red and her charge :)

  4. It's strange, isn't it, how our connection with our horses makes everything bearable, even something as unspeakable as death. It's true, batsqueaks are the way the British deal with things. I'm so sorry to hear about this sadness, but so very happy for you that you have your lovely mare. xo

  5. I am so sorry for your loss. Thank goodness for the beauty of your daily life - I hope it continues to comfort, Rachel

  6. Sorry to hear about this, T. It's definitely in the air around here, too - our precious wee Jinx (cat) is winding down, and any day now we are going to have to make the decision to bring her in and have her put to sleep. It feels like an endless pre-mourning, knowing it's coming and there's nothing we can do. I feel almost as if when it finally happens, there won't be any grief left because we've spent it all ahead of time. But I know that's wrong, too. Losing those we love is something everyone goes through, but each experience is completely unique. I hope you and your family help each other through the rough waters. Sending you hugs across the pond.

  7. Sympathies (what an inadequate term). May your days with Red help to soften the pain.



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