Life with horses forces even the most sedentary or distracted human out of the house and into the barn, and hence, into nature–the great outdoors, with weather and climate and times of day and changes of season.
This spring and summer, which has been all construction hell all the time, I’ve had next to no energy for the animals. Fall out of bed, feed and medicate as indicated, clean stalls, check water, stagger into construction zone that passes for house, stagger back out at more or less consistent times to do more feeding and cleaning, fall into bed (not even my own–I camped in a guest room for months) at late hour, rinse, repeat.
Even so, I’ve managed to be aware of the passage of the season. One watches the weather for indications of excessive heat–keep horses well watered, hose off at midday–or for signs of monsoon storms that can take the roofs off shelters and soak the hay, not to mention the horses, and generate mud and flies and make horses’ feet crack and chip. And lightning. Lightning is a scary thing around a steel barn.
It feels endless while it’s going on. The heat will last forever and the storms will come day after day, and when they take a break, it’s just a few days before they come roaring back.
But even here in Arizona where we don’t do daylight savings and the summer lasts through October, there are signs of change. The sun comes over the mountain significantly later, and sets over the valley enough earlier that if I get distracted with work or construction, sunset can catch me by surprise–and find me feeding horses in the dark.
The light is different. It’s clearer. After a rain, everything is sharper-edged. Our barren brown mountains have gone soft with green. Every break in the storms, we wonder if this will be it–if the rains will shut down and the fall dry season set in, before the big break into winter.
The horses are still in summer coat, so short it’s barely there around their faces, but there’s a faint bloom under it. In another month they’ll be building their winter coats, and in the continuing heat of October, they’ll be a little bit challenged. But when the break comes, they’ll need that thick fur; our winter rains can bite, and we might even get snow.
That’s a mirage now. We’ll settle for afternoons below 95F, and nights below 70. That’s our autumn.
Meanwhile another storm is brewing. There’s lightning off to the south, and the power just flickered. September’s almost in sight, but summer is hanging on. So is construction hell–but that’s nearly done, too. Finally. Not long before it’s all done and we can settle in to our beautiful and welcome winter.