I Was a Middle Aged Barn Rat, Part 4, “Sunset.” This is a ten part blog series about the year I decided to pursue my lifelong interest in horses, based on an article that appeared in Equus, March 2015.
Things have progressed well since taking this job as an intern at a horse stable. I’ve mentioned before the times I had to stop walking up the hill and pretend to admire the scenery while catching my breath. The good news is that the scenery at this stable is quite nice. The barn is small, with only six stalls, and is behind an upscale home on five acres of land on the outskirts of Hendersonville, Tennessee. A small pasture surrounded by a wooden fence lies next to the house at the top of the slope, and the small arena sits just below on the other side of the house. Further down the slope is the barn, and the main pasture occupies the rest of the acreage, where a small runnel at the bottom of the slope wanders through. My turn to feed is in the evenings, just at sunset. Regardless of the time of year or the time of sunset, I am there about half an hour before the sun goes down, a quiet time for me while the rest of the world is hurrying home from work or gearing up for dinner. While filling the water trough in the main pasture, I stand at the rear doors of the barn and look over the slope of the main pasture at the golden-pink sky sometimes decorated with clouds of varying color. Silver, gold, blue, then darkening to indigo when the Evening Star would appear. Every night it’s there, and each time I see it the consistency and dependability of the universe calms me.
One of the wonders of this job is that it gets me out of the house several times a week. Exercise is one thing, but being outdoors is a rarity for many of us, especially writers who spend our days in front of a computer pondering invented people. I periodically go to the gym, but when I do I don’t take the time to stand in the parking lot to gaze thoughtfully at the pool. Nor do I take deep, cleansing breaths of the car exhaust-filled air. The barn air smells like horses, hay, earth, grass, and flowers. Sometimes I can stop and literally smell the roses. On warm days the air is musty and thick with humidity, and in the winter it’s sharp and clean, and feels good in my lungs. Either is an exciting change from climate-controlled space that is the same every day.
The best thing, though, is when I’m done admiring the sunset and the Evening Star, I look down at the pasture and see the horses trotting or running toward me so they can be fed. They recognize me now, and they think I’m a good person. They come to be petted and brushed and fed and watered, and it fills my heart to see they’re as glad to see me as I am to see them.