Friday, October 10, 2008

The Fourth Season

FALL IS HERE, ushered in by crisp nights and warm days and the first Canada geese to arrive, jet lagged and relieved, for their winter lodging. The stately old flowering pear tree's green crown is polka-dotted with gold and crimson leaves. Soon, it will be a fiery mass of red standing alone near the farm's entrance, ushering in another season with a joyful shout.

As summer slides into a casual California autumn, the horses wind down. Once sleek, they take on a fuzzy quality, silhouettes soft against the kind of fantastic jack-o-lantern sunsets that only October can bring. Sensing the change, the pasture residents wander in earlier in the afternoon, nosing about their feed boxes for scraps of hay and looking wistfully toward the warm box stalls in the barn. Andy the goat assists them, opening paddock gate latches with his prehensile lips, putting himself away with his best friend, Half Pint.

Argus is entering his fourth season of freedom, bringing full-circle the happiest year of his life. It's his first fall out in the world, and he's having so much fun. His life in prison came with a good view of a quaint rural valley dotted with cottages and trees, and Argus became an observer. His name, after all, means "watchful." Now Argus is a participant; he rarely raises his head to look for things in the distance now. He's a real horse, head down low to the earth, sharing grazing rights to the last of the summer grass with migrating birds, his three equine siblings, and a goat that thinks he's a horse. Last week, our first rain awakened sleepy seeds, and now fragile emerald green baby blades of grass peek out from the earth and reach for the sky. The horses are delighted with this sweet and unexpected treat.

Argus has been free for 10 months, and it shows. Even in bright sunlight, I cannot always tell Ridge and Argus apart, the words "which one are you?" constantly on my lips. Argus really looks like a Thoroughbred now, his body no longer kinked and atrophied. It makes me wonder how he'll be with another year of pasture life under his belt. I look at their tails, once the best indicator: Argus' tail was short from where it had been hacked off just below the tail bone. A year later, it's below his hocks, and soon to catch up with Ridge's. Argus proudly uses his tail to protect Ridge's face from flies.

These two are almost never apart, and move in unison in a way that I have not seen before in pasture mates, like an unmounted, unbridled pas de deux. They are so beautiful together. Ridge, whose hocks are fusing, and who is sore while we wait for this process to finish, prefers to move at the walk as much as possible. While the rest of the herd pounds in at a gallop, Argus jogs patiently alongside his friend. You can see it on his face, the restraint it requires to, for a few moments, gear down from his spectacular, ground-eating medium trot. He tempers his love for floating about the pasture with his admiration for his best friend, who cannot fly with him just yet.

All these things I observe closely, as I learn much from Argus: How to be a friend. How to appreciate quiet moments, like a tart fall apple, or a smile from a stranger in the grocery store. How a gentle hand and some patient words might alter the course of a life, although we may never know it. How to slow down and look around, breathing in the season at hand, sitting expectantly underneath an autumn sky. How to appreciate anger and sorrow as catalysts for change. How moments and days and weeks and years are woven into an intricate web that is a life.

We, the weavers, choose the colors of the threads, and the beauty of the pattern. It's behind us, within us, and ahead of us, a vision always in the making, never finished, continually changing. Our animals, our children, our friends and lovers, all part of this intricate pattern. Argus runs through my tapestry, a slightly tattered white thread that wraps itself around a myriad of events from my 40th year, sent here by forces unknown to remind me and the world that life, with all its pleasures and heartaches, is a beautiful creation well worth clinging to.


JoyJumper said...

It's a gift to read your posts; a special package to open with delight. My heart swells up in my chest as I read about this special horse, and the special connection you have to one another.

Miss A said...

So beautiful!

cdncowgirl said...

This was a very poetic post. Thanks for writing it Katie!

Skye Felton said...

Katie, the story of Argus' rescue would be beautiful anyway, but you really have a gift with words. Thank you for sharing it with us.

barrelracingmom said...


pchoofinit said...

Wow that was beautiful. Our horses are our angels!

LuvMyTBs said...

Thank you Katie for continuing to share Argus with all of us.I always check to see if you have posted something new.

You never dissapoint! Another beautifully written descriptive picture of words and feelings.

Please rub Argie and Ridge for me.

Marcia said...

Katie, what a beautiful, beautiful post that you have written. we can all see the images that you have painted for us.
so happy about argus and his life, he has more memories wrapped in this one good year of his life; its a real miracle. he has made friends so easily. you still need to write a book about this boy.
marcia deeb

Holly said...

such a way with words you have.

I am in love with Argus long distance. Give him a scritch for me, and tell him that his "tattered white thread" has woven it's way thorugh my weaving too.

Anonymous said...

Just beautiful!

excaliber813 said...


You never disappoint! Your gift of the written word, and your ability to paint a picture in the minds eye are truly amazing. So many seasons of change for Argus. How my heart grows fonder with each and every post. A "slightly tattered white thread" has woven it's place into my heart.

Many blessings to all @ Watermark Farms


Joy said...

Ah, this one made me weep. I learned to believe, after some very difficult losses, that our lives are a tapestry. The Hand that weaves the tapestry never makes a mistake and never waivers. But sometimes, we stand so close to the work that all we see is ugly brown or garish orange. But if we only stand back, we can see that the brown is the eye of a beloved horse and the orange is his firey forelock.

What a wonderful entry. This didn't just touch my heart, it touched my soul.

Enjoy your fourth season with Argus. This is simply wonderful.

wolfandterriers said...

I've had an extremely difficult week with my boarding situation. Thank you for reminding me to focus on the little things--instead of whining about my MCAT score!

Anonymous said...

Simply beautiful. Thank you.

Romeena said...

Katie, you have a God-given talent. I'm so glad you have decided to share it with us. Anyone could have told the story of Argus, but no one else could have told it as beautifully and eloquently as you have. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Katie -

You write poetry in these entries. You are a truly gifted writer. Thank you so much for continuing to share Argus' life with us. His tattered white thread runs right through my heart.


a touch wild said...

Poetic and lovely, once again bringing stinging tears to my eyes.