Thursday, June 11, 2015

Ponies Of Crook's Mountain

I don't do anything but go to work at the public library, and then promptly escape to horse country on my three days off.

That's all I do. I don't clean much, or dust or mop or any of those things. Having a tidy house is last on my list in the summertime. I care about finding horses. New bands of wild horses. If they're out there, I'm going to spend what free time I have with them.

It used to be, when summer rolled around, I couldn't wait to spend my time at Red Feather. I liked puttering around the Silver Moonbeam, hanging homemade curtains up in that vintage tin shack, writing or painting at the little table, listening to the rhythm of rain or the ponderosa pine needles brush against the trailer. And actually, I looked forward to getting another glimpse of Peaches the bear.

Summer was also the time when I used to seek out art fairs, bluegrass jams and folk festivals and there was one brief stint of regular shows that took place locally where I almost wondered if I wasn't turning into a Jalan Crossland groupie.

Music is in my blood. I was raised on folk songs. When Linda Rondstadt sang Blue Bayou I decided right then and there, that's what I want to be. A singer. I sang Blue Bayou everyday, all the time. Even in front of people.

For the last decade, Chad and I used to spend our summers going to concerts in Boulder, The Chautauqua, the Bluebird in Denver or Red Rocks Amphitheatre. We'd tap our feet and sing along with Gregory Alan Isakov every chance we could and marvel at Jeb Bow's fiddle fantastics. If we were lucky, Bonnie Paine would show up, washboard strung around her neck, bringing a bit of the Appalachians to the stage. Live performances by the lanky and funny Texan guitar player, Hayes Carll is always a pleasure and Joe Pug was a surprise treat. We'd sit outside the Chautauqua auditorium on blankets and listen, for free, Chris Issak, Jackson Browne or Lyle Lovett. We'd plan our summer around music events. Oh, we would still go camping. And hike and fish. Fly fishing was Chad's middle name.

But then, one stormy day last year, everything changed. We took a detour and ran right into some wild ponies and they stole our hearts and we've never been the same. Nowadays, if I long to see moose at Red Feather Lakes, or if there's a banjo gig happening somewhere in the Rocky Mountains, well... now I decide with a flip of a coin. The horses always win.

Green Mountain is full of showy Dapples, high-strung grey's, white-faced hunks and good looking, mud-caked bays. The meadows are packed with spirited black bachelors desperate to snag a mare and the confident golden girls are showing off their babies. I've come to know most of the families on the hills and folds of the great Green. They are and always will be what makes me endure the harshness of the seasons, living in one of the wildest states in America. I stay because of them.

Due to the mustang controversy in the West, I want to see all the herds before they disappear. So, right next door to where Ghost, Dancer, Jigsaw and King live, is a mountain rich of Indian paint horses. I had a feeling that if I found these Crooks Mountain wild ones, that the unique circles around their eyes would make me see clearer, that their splotched markings of camouflage would hide my fear. I knew the arrowheads around their hooves would bring me the gift of friendship, their friendship, and I noticed a feather entangled in one scorched silver mane, stringy woolen strands, like fringe from a Crow Indian blanket, hung way down to his thigh. He was the leader, carrying the feather, and together exhibited power, and offered me some, as he kindly and quietly ran past me.

Why do I spend my days with these horses? It's simple. It's effortless. With them, I feel like I belong. With them I can be still. With them, my heart is full. They give so much without even trying. Just by being themselves.

Just look at them!