87 mph winds in Gold Hill made the news last night, and today is even windier. Here four miles west–and that much closer to the Continental Divide-the winds have been raging even higher. For the fourth day in a row, I don my wool socks, Sorrels, long underwear, ski pants, ski parka, wool hat and ski goggles to check the herd. I find myself bracing against the cold and wind before even stepping
outside. A couple curse words escape as I slip on the ice, landing hard on my ass. These poor horses, how do they cope? Are they going to be OK?
Once I am in among them, rubbing ice off eyelashes, frozen pieces of hay out of manes, I am returned immediately to a calmer place within. They are fine. They are doing what they always do: chewing calmly, feeling the presence of one-another, letting soft puffs of breath spill out their nostrils and land warmly, reassuringly, on their neighbor’s muzzle also buried in the sweet hay in the feeder. Ice crusts their flanks and butts, but underneath, my fingers disappear into dry, downy warmth. They are fine.
While fleeting thoughts of the beach, warm sun on sand, a glass of wine poolside pop into my mind, the horses are simply here, in the moment. They are not bracing against the cold nor yearning to escape it. They are 100 percent here, in the elements, at one with Nature, taking refuge in the basic fact of being together, one of five, as the winter storm rages on around them.