Thursday, November 30, 2023

November Hill farm journal, 198

 I was out yesterday afternoon giving hay and filling water troughs. We’re in a streak of cold right now and all the equine fur was puffed and they were happy to get the hay. Cody and Little Man have been in their single weight blankets each night. Cody’s single weight strap broke so he’s now wearing Keil Bay’s purple one, and it occurs to me he is filling Keil’s blanket, in the sense that someone might “fill someone’s shoes.” 

Of course no one expects Cody to fill Keil’s spot, but he seems to be contemplating the enormity of being the biggest horse in the herd, and still feeling the absence of his best friend. The expression on his face and in his eyes has changed. I keep waiting for it to go back, but so far it has remained serious and at times almost distant. I see he and Little Man playing tag over the paddock fence most mornings now, so I know he’s returned to at least that one habit and pleasure. 

The air yesterday afternoon was cold and still, and it was quiet. A prelude to real winter season, which usually does happen in NC but not always when expected. Before this cold streak we were having warm days with flies coming out. 

My focus lately has been on garden plantings, and I have plans for two new beds: one atop Salina and Keil’s gravesites, the other in the big barnyard. A helpful native plant person recommended, upon my request for something special and maybe rare for Keil’s grave, the Sweetleaf, aka Horse Sugar, Symplocos tinctoria, which is a host plant for the King Hairstreak butterfly, which is becoming rare these days and echoes my long-time nickname for Keil Bay - the King. I couldn’t find this plant locally and then a nursery about an hour away actually reached out to me to say they have it, and can bring it to me, and once again, Keil’s magic ripples out. 

There are a lot of things to do around here, but I am thus far sticking to my intention to move slowly into and through this winter season. I’m doing things but in a slower way, and often choosing not to do a thing because I know it will start the wheel turning for me toward a faster pace of life. 

Last week, before the cold and after the good rain we finally got, I mulched the leaves in the back pasture and seeded it, and overseeded the grass paddock and both barnyards. That was a joyful thing for me, as the repetition of patterns puts me into a sort of trance state which seems to reboot something for me. I was for awhile that day close to Salina and Keil Bay, and not long after I finished the task, I felt and saw Keil doing a fancy trot up the long stretch of front pasture, neck curved, head high, collected and powerful. He stays close when I need him, and he surprises me with gifts like this image, which is really his spirit moving around us. 

Today is writing day but I also broke my own rule and have one client scheduled, and then will head over to my mom’s - she was in the hospital for several days but home now and doing well. Over Thanksgiving a number of family members, including myself, had more minor illnesses, one Covid, one not Covid, another not Covid not strep, for me a mild UTI and possibly a kidney stone (!), so it’s good to be on the other side of that string of things. 

It’s almost December! Which feels impossible but also okay. 

Saturday, November 18, 2023

November Hill farm journal, 197


The light on this big oak near Keil Bay and Salina isn’t able to be captured with my phone camera, but each day as the sun goes low in the sky, it glows for a few minutes, and the quality of that light reminds me of all the times I’ve seen the two Hanoverian beauties in that same light, but also the feeling of the light they each cast throughout their lives. 

This past week I had a very tearful day where I was being nearly constantly reminded of Keil’s presence with me still - it was both comforting and hard - and many serendipities including a very very close encounter with a barred owl who flew inches from my windshield and made eye contact with me as I was having a very hard cry while driving. 

Yesterday at my chiro appointment, the first thing I said when she asked how I was doing was that my horse died, and she said “Keil?” and I told her the story of his passing. I cried, she cried, she gave me a big, long hug, and it strikes me anew how far-reaching Keil Bay’s life has been because of how very present he was and powerful he was in my daily life and in my heart. It’s hard to make sense of him being gone, on that deep emotional level where it truly does feel like he has always been with me. And of course he is with me, but the urge to hug him is strong. 

Here are a few glimpses of the native plantings this week. I believe these are the first catkins I’ve ever seen on the hazelnut trees in the potager.

The climbing aster is buzzing with activity even in November, which is such a good reason to plant this if you don’t have it and if it’s native to your area. 

A nest made entirely of twigs has become visible in the now bare huge elderberry that volunteered in the front pasture the past two years. I did some reading and it’s probably that of a house wren, and could be an actual utilized nest or it could be one of a number of dummy nests the males build each year. I suspect it was an actual nest, as I recall seeing many house wrens flying in and out of the fully-leafed out elderberry in the late spring and summer.

This is my growing and thriving oakleaf hydrangea. I planted three two autumns ago, the deer got one, one is doing poorly, but this one is thriving. Its fall color is one of the reasons I planted it. I’m going to move the smaller one and see if a new location might give it a little nudge toward better growth and health. 

And of course I’m not the only one mourning Keil Bay. The herd go to this end of the arena at least once in a day’s time to stand by Keil’s grave. Cody was there alone this week, clearly missing his good friend. 

I just noticed the F marker and perhaps it stands for Friend.

Amazing Keil’s Enduring Heart Continues Magnificently Beating (for his) Friends. 

Sunday, November 12, 2023

The Old Saint-King, Keil Bay

 I saw this someplace this past week online and saved it as it made me think both of Keil Bay and an idea to note how much he remains with us. A wood-cut plaque of his profile on the tack room door where he will continue his reign as herd and human guardian, which he very much already is in spirit. 

My week has been very busy but today, the day I marked as the beginning of a slow slide into winter, I find myself thinking of him and shedding more tears. The quiet times are when I feel him most, and he is leading me to that calm place he always offered in his presence. 

Yesterday in the final day of my EMDR training and in the final processing I did as a client, I was working on a very early memory in which I was 3-4 years old and in the hospital for a procedure. My mom was handing me over to a nurse and I was terrified at being left there. As that single image from memory that carried the most fear was in my mind and I was doing the eye-movement desensitization protocol with my group partner as therapist - note that this was virtual training online - a rainbow of virtual balloons began to flow upward on the big screen of my desktop computer. In that moment I felt the joy of synchronicity and then the very potent pain and fear of the memory. I completed the eye movement set and in the check in with the therapist, noted the joy and the pain, and there were very powerful tears related to the memory, then more eye movements. As I came back to the check in moments, and reported that the pain had lifted, the balloons sprang up again and floated up on my screen. No one involved could figure out how this happened, as neither of us were touching our computers and we were in a secure break-out room on the platform. 

I say all this because in that moment I had the thought that it was Keil Bay who had done it, and I share that because it illustrates just how much I love him and how much he gave over the many years he has been with us. He was a powerful and giving soul and it’s easy to attribute amazing synchronicities to him now. 

I’m happy to say that I completed the 50-hour EMDR basic training last night and we had a wonderful graduation ceremony. It completely makes sense to me that Keil Bay has woven himself into this new journey with a new to me and powerful way of treating trauma. I will think of him every time I do this work with clients, and as I move forward with a year of work toward certification. 

Thursday, November 09, 2023

November Hill farm journal, 196

 I was on writing retreat Wednesday through Monday and came home to a very full week, which I’m still in the midst of. Yesterday I finished my client work week and today I begin part two of the second three full days of EMDR training. Starting on Sunday I will happily enter what I’m going to call the slow ride into winter. I’m ready to hunker down a bit and putter and just feel all the feelings from this busy, and also sad, fall season.

I have put the flower arrangement our vets sent us in the window to dry and it’s continuing to be very beautiful and offers a visual reminder of how things that were beautiful in life can remain so after death. Keil Bay is never far from my spirit and it has occurred to me more than once that the bay horse who used to accompany me everywhere I went as a young girl is now very much still present, but instead of being unnamed, I know exactly who he is. Thank you, Big Bay, for continuing to share my journey. 

Writing retreat time was very good, though it took me two days to break through the crust of - not exactly resistance but more like a crust of inertia due to having been so in need of time away. Once that happened I was able to get into the writing again and worked on the novel (as opposed to the TV pilot) and I gave myself permission to leap far ahead in the story and write to the end. Sometimes this is what is needed to get rolling and it worked very well. 

Another part of writing retreat time when shared with other writers is reading one’s work out loud, and I was able to read the first half of another TV pilot I wanted to get some feedback on. And to hear a wonderful stage play read to me by my long-time writing friend D. 

It was good, creative, healing time and I’m grateful for it.

November Hill is turning colors this week and I can’t help but feel Keil Bay is reveling along with me as this happens. The herd remains in a state of processing. Almost every morning they can be found by Keil’s grave, and I think they’re drawn to him during the night when horses tend to cluster closely together. They do seem to me to be a bit depressed, though I’ve seen the donkeys play together a few times and also Cody and Little Man playing their tag game over the fence. I hope they find their playfulness again when enough time has passed. 

On Sunday I plan to complete the garage clean out so the Subaru can go back in. It’s very close to being done and so much has gotten donated and passed on. It’s good to feel some clearing in that way.

I don’t think I mentioned here that we made an offer on a farm the week before Keil Bay passed. The estate for the property accepted another offer due to our need to close in the new year, and this was the one place we’d really connected with, so it was a bit of a loss, though very quickly forgotten when we had the real and deep loss of Keil Bay passing. Right now there isn’t anything appealing on the market and I think we all feel like being here until we find the exact right place is the exact right place for us to be. Sometimes things work out in ways we don’t even know about, and sometimes never do, and I trust the process of synchronicity to set things in motion when the time is right. 

This morning this peace lily is opening wide against the autumn landscape outside and bringing me much peace.