Today is hot and dry; the garden sucks down water like a big earth sponge. Snake tracks squiggle across the road; the chickens hang out under in the shade, panting. The mustangs stand close together, motionless for hours; only their tails move, swishing lazily across each other’s faces. The fifty tomato plants hang heavy with green and ripening fruit and the pepper plants are big and bushy, each loaded with enough heat to ignite the most jaded tastebud. It’s pleasant enough inside with the breeze as long as you are barefoot and not wearing much; and if it gets too hot to cool down even with a peach daiquiri, it is time to head to the pond for a dip. Nowadays there are minnows, frogs and koi sharing the water. One day Ted the mini dachshund begged to come along, promising to leave behind only pawprints. As soon as we got there, he became very excited and from a ledge of about a foot high, leapt a mighty leap and landed square on the boogie board, which floated off with Ted riding atop. “OMG, Ted’s surfing!” We laughed ourselves sick. Yip-yipping the entire time, he boogied the board, pushed by the breeze, all the way across the pond – which to a dog of his stature must seem huge. His low-slung center of gravity allowed perfect balance even when he began to race back and forth upon his tiny ship. Ted became One with the board.
I know how Ted feels. When I ride Reno, the mustang, sometimes it seems that we are melding together: his strength, his speed, his senses; my guidance, my plan and my brain. It is amazing to just think, let’s go a little faster, and abracadabra – we are trotting – or galloping – along. My smallish and no longer young body feels big and powerful as this sturdy, agile, intelligent and gorgeous horse carries me along as effortlessly as if I were a foxtail in his big shaggy mane. I have a fantasy that we actually become the same being: akin to the centaur of myths. We become One.
Is this what drives all spiritual quests? To feel connected, part of, inseparable from everything and everyone else?
The worst legal punishment we Americans impose is death; after that, it is solitary confinement. Forced isolation is considered akin to torture. I have no doubt it is torturous. Connecting with others is where we come alive. It is as necessary as eating, sleeping and breathing. It is like water and oxygen, like sunlight. The moments of our lives that we really cherish are all probably shared with others. I love the little things people say that let you know them better. I love wandering, half philosophical, half profane conversations about stuff that matters. I love the warm delicious feeling of holding the man I love. I love a long ear-burning conversation with my best girlfriends. I love a late summer barbeque with a collection of neighbors and friends. I love when my dogs come over and kiss me for no reason. I love looking at the vast mountain night sky and feeling overwhelmed by the immensity; and inspecting a wildflower and being overwhelmed by tenderness.
It has been a challenging summer; all work and no play makes jack! In an interview, John Mellencamp said his father would ask him, what did you do today that was fun? An excellent question! When one is really, truly very busy with life/survival work and chores, it seems indulgent to take time to have fun. But pleasure, fun, and connection, isn’t that what makes all the rest make sense?
In other Red Lodge news, Millie the mule found a great new home, packing with nine other mules in the San Bernardino forests. And Lil’ Clay, the one legged rooster, just today, found a new home via Tradio. So now, Red Lodge is home to three mustangs, six chickens, one rooster named Hank; four lovely, naughty dogs, some cats and a toad. I have a new friend coming soon; he comes from my hometown into this unknown and will call it home – at least for awhile. We can’t wait to meet our new housemate and caretaker. Believe it or not, we became friends via Facebook – another way for us to connect. And I believe that is no less spiritual than any other chance, but karmic meeting.
Soon the dog days will turn cooler, and summer will begin to slip away. It will be time to put away the shorts and pull out the sweatshirts. And so the planet spins and the days sift through our fingers. And soon it will be fall. But tonight the mountain air is warm and the barbeque smells like summer. And I’m going to go eat, laugh, and listen to the many people gathered here tonight.
Happy September, my dear Neighbors!
The Mountain Mouth
“The Mountain Mouth” copyright 2010 Kate MacDonald