There has been no riding in a week. Today the sun has come out and there's a balmy breeze blowing but it rained hard through the night so every inch of November Hill is mush, including our very well-draining arena.
I've thrown open all the doors and windows in the barn and turned the fans on and fed the herd their hay in the sunshine but not out in the very wet pastures. I'll see how much drying happens by this afternoon. If I can give them some time in the front field I will.
On Saturday I went to the barn and it was rainy and dark. I busied myself with chores and for a little while didn't notice that Keil Bay was standing at his stall door just watching me and waiting - not for hay or his mid-day meal, not for water, or anything related to food.
The busyness of doing chores can sometimes turn into a wall around me. I have worked hard to create the habit of stopping every few minutes to take it down. I'm not sure if there's a fairy tale about a woman who was so busy doing chores she never had time to notice all the beauty around her, but if not, there should be.
Keil Bay has a gift, as did Salina, for piercing that wall. Keil does it silently, soundlessly, the most quiet demeanor he ever exhibits. Sometimes I hear him instantly, others I need a few minutes, but he has surely been a teacher for me in letting chores be the background music and beauty in each moment taking the solo part.
I walked over and asked him what was up and he turned his head so that his right eye was in my face. He had a small cut on the eyelid and although it had started to form a scab, it was recent and the eyelid was swollen.
My heart whirled in a moment of pure panic, an engine revving and then quieting as I turned on the lights and took a close look. There was no involvement of the eyeball itself, no redness, no closing of the eye or squinting or blinking. But the swollen lid looked uncomfortable and I suspect the bump that caused the cut had hurt.
My husband brought me a bowl of warm water and a clean cloth and Keil let me hold the warm damp compress over the entire eye. Mainly I wanted him to know that I knew what was wrong - that I had listened - and heard - and to gently clean the area. I gave him a dose of Arnica and put a dab of triple antibiotic ointment into the cut and then stood and held his head, stroked his face, and let him know that I was going to be keeping an eye on his eye.
He let out a long, soft snort and then shook his head gently, as if shaking off the cut and the swelling.
A couple of hours later I went out to give the second dose of Arnica. The swelling had subsided by about 70%. By the next morning it was normal.
We arrive at the barn with stuff swirling around us, the dust of daily life, little tornadoes and hurricanes of emotion and lists of things to do and unfinished conversations. It's easy to grab the muck rake or the grooming bucket and let our minds tumble forward as we mentally cross things off our lists or continue those conversations.
I'm grateful for the herd I live with and that every one of them is opinionated and expressive and determined enough to remind me to stop the train of thought, look at what is right in front of me, and listen.