I was going to do a mighty blog for you today. It was going to be about love and nuance. I had it all in my head, running like tickertape.
Then work took over. We had a ninety-mile-an-hour wind last night, and there are trees felled all over the compound, crashed through walls and fences, lying sadly on the battered ground like wounded giants. Horses hate wind; it gets in the hairs in their ears and they cannot hear, and losing a sense is very alarming for a prey animal. So it was important to work the mare, to steady her. Changing the subject is sometimes the best thing you can do for an equine.
She’d clearly been on mountain lion watch all night, and she was not much interested in me. When I asked her to free-school on the ground, I got two galvanic bucks and the prancing Spanish Riding School of Vienna trot that she puts on when she is at her most racehorsey and duchessy. Do you know that I have the Byerley Turk on my bottom line? she is patently telling me. But I pushed her on through, and suddenly there was my soft, dressage dowager, as polite as a diplomat, as responsive as thought. Afterwards, we stood for a while, as the Older Brother’s Best Beloved took some photographs, and old Posy Posington put on her posh face. I thought what a miracle it is that I can bring this horse back from a storm.
Out in the world, a storm is raging which will not respond to steady groundwork. As the fears and horrors pile up, the arguments are starting, and people who think they know the answer are beginning to shout. That was why I was going to write about nuance. But there was no time. I had other work to do. I started on my HorseBack job, and then worked on a favour for Help for Heroes, who are HorseBack’s great partner and supporter. It was a small thing, just finding some nice archive pictures for them which they want to use on their website. Hours later, I was still mired in the archive. By the time I sent the collection, the light had gone and the day had fled. For a moment, I castigated myself. What about my book? What about my career? What would the agent say? The deadlines grouched and growled at me.
Then I thought: bugger it. I’ll edit over the weekend. That is what being self-employed is all about. Today, I did my amateur work, in the true sense of the word, which has its root in the Latin word for love. It’s just as important. When the world feels as if it is spinning off its axis, perhaps doing something for someone else is one of those minute offerings which can steady it, for a moment. My puny human plan seems very mere in the face of outrage, but all I can do is stick my head down and cling to those small things which mean something to one human heart.
I went down in the indigo gloaming and gave the horses their fragrant hay, and fed them their dense, herby feed, which they lipped with soft, delighted mouths, and settled them for the night. The wind had dropped. All was still. Two contented mares stood again under their favourite tree, instead of out in the open, away from danger. They are sturdy and stoical and entirely present.
It was the first of the storms. Another is tracking its way across the Atlantic, and will hit us tomorrow. The hatches will again be battened down. We must steady the buffs. We shall hold on to the small things.
As I went through the archive, I came upon this thing of beauty:
And these are the ones taken by the BB, after work this morning. Soft face:
Well, as posh as she gets in her winter woolliness.
PS. There have been some particularly lovely comments from the Dear Readers in the last few days. Thank you for them. They are very touching.