Sunday, March 20, 2011

Peace in Solitude

Saige and I went out into the shrub-steppe yesterday.  I'm always amazed at the silence out there.  Once I turn off the rumble of the truck and step out into the crisp air, my ears are delightfully met with the sounds of ... nature.  It must have looked like I was praying in church as I stood out there with my eyes closed.  I let the sun shine down on me as I absorbed the sounds of the wind rushing over the grassy hillsides, listened to the bird's sing (a seemingly common bird I cannot identify),  and breathed in the smell of sage, of horses, of spring.  It is no wonder that I did not want to turn around as the sun began to slip lower in the sky.

This land makes my heart go pitter-patter!

She actually made me mad wandering like this..
Of course, it was not hard to miss the thousands of horses out there.  Aside from the obvious signs of intense grazing, horse tacks and well worn trails, and boundless piles of poo.....We did not travel far before we spotted a band up on the hillside.  Camera slung on my shoulder, I began a zig zap pattern towards them, never making a head on approach.  Saige, who insisted on walking, trailed farther and farther behind as her limited attention span jumped from rocks to dirt and back again.  I kept having to call her to keep her heading in the same general direction as me so she wouldn't end up who knows where.  There were times she was so far away that the wind would snatch my words and I had to cup hands around my mouth to send my voice farther.  "Saige!!"  She is such an independent girl.  There was no fear of being alone out there.  She was perfectly content to find her own meandering way.  Perhaps she will feel the same as me in this landscape as she grows older.

Allowing Saige to explore on her own as long as she was within my sights, I angled my way up towards those horses.  Whenever the stallion looked like he was about to turn his herd away and down the opposite side of the hill, I'd stop and rest a while in the grass and watch them.  I also took the time to root myself.  I observed the vegetation, and took pictures to find names of flowers later.

Ever watchful bay stallion

Soon, Saige and I had made our way up the hillside.  By this time, the horses had moved off to the other side.  Saige finally grew tired and let me carry her the last step up the grassy hill.  I think for a while she dozed as I walked across the flat bench where the horses had previously been.  I kept walking, slowly and quietly, expecting to come across them as I climbed up, and then looked down.

 It was difficult traversing the rocky hillside down with Saige's dead weight in my arms, trying to keep my feet, and snap pictures.  Cautiously, I continued, again keeping my approach on an angle as I made my way down.  Soon, I grew pretty tired and stopped to sit and watch them a while.  Maybe next time I am out like this, I will have a carrier for Saige!

Snapping off picture after picture roused Saige and she pointed and chattered about the horses.
Saige with the bay stallion in the background..
The bay stallion eventually grew concerned enough about our presence that he moved his mares off and out of view.  Saige and I had been in this spot for more than an hour, so we trekked back to the truck for lunch and water.  It was mid-afternoon at this point, and I figured I had time to go up the road further in search of other bands.  Not that searching was required!  Within half a mile, I spotted several bands on the hills to my left, and perhaps one dotting the far hills on my right.  It's no wonder that the new grass is fighting to gain any height with so many grazers munching it down.  I even noticed quite a bit of sagebrush that had been chewed on so that what was left was a small leafless bush of clipped branches.

They usually aren't browsers, but when grazing forage is low..

Another band with a beautiful buckskin yearling...
An hour later, I knew it was time to head back, as much as it depressed me.  I could have stayed out there all evening, all night, soaking in the solitude (shattered only by the shrill voice of my adoring daughter).  I took my time driving back, stopping several times to turn off the truck and walk out a ways into the sage.  It was like meditation.  It was like my sanctuary.  It's like my place of worship.

As we neared the place where we sat with the bay stallion and his band, we came upon them again.  They seemed less afraid of us this time and did not move away from the road as we drove passed.  I was able to catch some photographs much closer than I have been able to with the limited zoom of my lens.  It was a great way to say goodbye as we hit the highway.  And indeed, Saige's little voice chanted, "Bye-bye horsies, bye-bye horsies!"

The bay stallion and his mares on our way out...


No comments:

Post a Comment