Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Apples, Horses, Chickens, and Democrats

Tonight I am dehydrating bags of apples. Tomorrow I'll bake pies. It is time; the apples still hanging on the last late tree are crisp and ripe. I know from my one and only dehydrating experience that they should first be peeled. So I am procrastinating the long and tedious task that awaits me. I suppose I should use it as an opportunity for meditation. I'll get myself into a quiet place and then peel and core and slice. Peel and core and slice. Peel and core and slice with a heartful of love and the knowledge that someday, in some far off place, I'll eat my porridge, thankful for the little bit of home that sweetens it. This is intention. I can transcend today and reach out to tomorrow in the act of peeling and slicing apples. My grandma knew this, and I suspect grandmothers everywhere do.

The only other tree still fruiting has mealy, drab little bitty apples that aren't good to eat. Those we reserve for sweet Lola the gray mare down the lane. She runs to greet us when she sees us, knowing we are the new apple dispensers in the neighborhood. Like most horses, her scent is divine to me. Like perfume. Even her warm breath, vaporous in the cool afternoon, smells good to me. She nuzzles my palms the way only velvety horse lips can. Fall is magic. Horses are magic.

Horses were a part of my childhood and one of the few appreciations I shared with my father. Lately, horses have been on my mind. I saw a post for a free horse while shopping at the Skagit Valley Coop in Mt. Vernon yesterday. The horse had been rescued after suffering a near fatal beating by some cruel ass. The rescuer had attempted to get animal control to take the horse, but they wouldn't for whatever reason. (?!) The kind and conscientious person ended up buying the horse to save its life. She even paid a vet to do emergency surgery, and is now offering the recovered horse to the right home. The horse, whose long sad face was pictured on the flyer with fresh stitches, no longer trusts men. The new owner must be a woman and have some riding experience. I thought. "Hey, that's me. I'm a woman. I've ridden. I'm the right home!" (For an animal lover this line of reasoning is automatic.) I've dreamed of living to see the day when we return to horses for transportation, and this would be my way to live by example. Now, that would be ultimately cool. Talk about retro! I'd just ride into town, tie her off and do a little shopping. Steve, synchronous in his own peculiar way, suggested lobbying the city council for hitching posts. "Somebody has to lead the way," I thought. Yeah, a horse. Why not? I thought about it with my left brain for a moment and reality hit. Our property is not fenced. That would be a big expensive project. Wait! I'm moving onto a boat. I can't adopt a horse for six months and then get rid of it. And surely I can't take a horse on Nomadness! It just isn't going to happen. Which brings me to chickens.

Soon, Steve and I will be getting a small flock of young hens. We've been discussing the virtues fresh eggs and knowing where a little more of our food comes from. And of course, there's the soulful, beneficial stream of entertainment chickens provide as they scratch, cackle, strut and peck out their place in the universe. We've been browsing the net for coop plans, and walking the property to determine the best locale and how to keep them safe from predators. We both know there is a definite chance we will soon be gone indefinitely, and the hens will have to stay with whomever moves in, or be given away. Yet, I am so lonely for critters in my life, and Steve adores chickens. Who'd have guessed that? He claims he misses them. Plus chickens are a better investment than stocks or gold at this point. And my dog, Lily will thoroughly enjoy herding them around the yard. At fourteen, she deserves a few hens of her own.

As to the possibility of chickens on a boat... well, there is a tiny itsy bitsy sliver of possibility, right? I have always recognized my need to live with critters. Critters know their place. They are honest and true. They don't lie, or worry, or fret. Being with animals reminds me of who I am at a most essential level. In the mirroring eyes of my corgi or of a whale or a doe, I can see my animal self and also feel my humanity. I can distinguish my self.

Yesterday I mailed in our ballots. I was adamant to get them in early and on paper. I hand carried them into the post office and made sure they were received by the one postal worker with a smile. When I left the post office, I passed the Democrats office, so I pulled in to pick up an Obama sticker. Better late than never, huh? (Besides it might bring some future generation a few bucks as a collectible someday. Now that's eBay thinking!) Anyway, I went in and volunteered to help on election day. Since I am not tied to a workday, I figure I can drive folks to the polls, or put out coffee for the voters, or do something useful. I guess I want to feel like I'm doing something to counterbalance my cynicism. Cynicism has been creeping into my heart lately, and try as I might, it seems to be taking root. Last night I actually lay awake for a couple of hours worrying about the election. The election! For those who don't know me--- I can usually sleep under almost any conditions. Heartbreak has kept me awake, but that's about it. For me to loose sleep over the idea of election fraud, is a HUGE sign that underneath my calm exterior something is boiling in my being. It is fear.

Fear is the enemy that lurks within. I don't remember who said this, but it smacks of truth. Fear is what they've been peddling to us for years. I don't like feeling manipulated. But then again, I don't want to look back and say, "I saw it coming but wouldn't admit it." So I admit it: I am afraid things could get much worse before they get better. I hope not, of course, but I see the signs. The writing is on the wall. But I choose to let this fear motivate me to dry apples and tend chickens while Steve puts a new watermaker on the boat. Besides, those apples and chickens and misty breathed horses are also my antidote.

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