Trouble had been brewing for weeks... months, maybe years, depending on how you look at it. But for at least the seven days prior to this one, the powers of the Universe had injected enough hardship and trouble into the main arteries of our life, to cause a serious blockage.
Hubsy had chosen the wrong week to quit his anxiety medication and try to go it alone. He was overly stressed at work, and then subdued and depressed at home. It was the week we had discovered that Punkin had been cutting math class ... all week, and then was late for after school curfew. The two of them weren't just standing on the edge, they were wrestling on the edge. It was a grudge match, and the loser just might be forced to find shelter elsewhere. So, of course, as the fearless leader of this spasmodic side show, I decided to take on the world, and try to save every body from themselves. Luckily, the Universe heard my sobs of distress, and blessed us all with one perfect day.
We arrived at Betty's farm, along with Vegas and Malibu, at about four in the afternoon. The first order of business for all was to grab a beer (or soda) and gather for a meet and greet on the screened porch. Her kids met our kids. Our kids met their dogs. Their dogs incited a riot amongst themselves, and ran rampant throughout the house, and across our feet, legs, and laps. The weather was remarkably Springy for a mid-January weekend, and it was wonderful to be outside in the warm sun again. It helped to lighten our moods, and alleviate the pressure of the choices we were in the process of making.
Before long, we had all mosied out to the barn to visit with the horses. I have this thing about horses; I love them to death, and I'm scared to death of them. Not my family, though. Punkin, Princess, and Hubsy all stood casually by the rail fence and allowed the animals to nose through their hair, and nuzzle their necks. I hung just a little further back, but in no way allowed my safe distance to diminish my elation. When I felt more comfortable, I did get to pet them (As seen on TV!). While hanging out by the barn, we also harassed the chickens that mistakenly made their way onto Betty's property some time ago, and decided to roost.
As the crowd cracked jokes, and shared amusing anecdotes, Betty's Hubs, and her twenty-something son tuned up the ATVs. When the engines purred (or grumbled and growled), a line began to form for rides into the "outback" out back. It had rained the day before, and so the wooded trails were a muddy mess, but still a blast to slide and splash along. Those who rode with the tour guide under ten played a game of bob & weave with low hanging twigs and branches, that he had no issue with, and thus never thought to give warning! Whoa! But as the sun was setting, we managed to make it to the edge of the property, and through a distant neighbor's back field, to shout at his ass ... donkey, that is. At one point, one of the machines broke down and had to be towed in for more tuning. It was an omen for an incident to come.
After devouring some burgers and dogs from the backyard barbecue, back out we went for some night riding, a bonfire behind the barn, and another round of brew. It was a surreal experience. The horses came to the back fence to join our crew, and so we included them in our conversations, while the kids fed them soft peppermint treats. My apprehension waned, and I thoroughly enjoyed their company. The fire was fed with dead branches, construction debris, dried out holiday firs, and even a rotted out doghouse (that actually rolled out of the fire and chased us for several feet!). Being two towns away from the city, well outside of the halo of light pollution, we were finally able to trace the constellations out of the masses of stars in the night sky. Stars that I had forgotten had ever existed. It was a glorious night for all... until the incident.
The finicky four wheeler decided to conk out again, right after it had taken Vegas, Punkin, and Princess out into the silent darkness, along a desolate private road. There they sat, struggling against their imaginations, and the images of wolves, bears, and crazed machete killeres, in hockey masks and overalls... until the rescue rider retrieved them. And at that point, we said our goodbyes, and with much gratitude to our hostess, gracefully bowed out.
The day had been like a restful vacation in a peaceful green valley, that sat between the mountain that we had just fallen off of, and the mountain ahead that we are about to climb. I am recharged and ready to tackle the high school home school preparation that awaits me.
|I'm ready ... I'm ready ... I'm ready|