Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Crazy Is As Crazy Does

Sometimes I can not sleep but it is not a hardship. There are nights when I fondly recall the era of my life when sleep was delicious and coveted and luxurious (when I was young). Delicious sleep belongs to the past, like so many other things. Occasionally when I can not sleep, I go walking. That is what I did last night.

It rained all night Sunday and was snowing hard Monday morning. It rained and snowed all day and continued to rain throughout the night. There was mud and slush and freezing rain coming down, so what better time to go for a walk?

About 3 am I decided to go up to the barn. I found my winter boots, still full of pieces of hay from feeding the horses all last winter, and also full of spider webs. I used the vacuum cleaner to insure there were no live spiders left in the boots, but two spiders crawling on the toe of one boot were sucked into the maelstrom - death by Kirby. I found my winter gloves, trusting no spiders had taken up residence in them, and located the headlamp. It was totally black outside, I needed a light. I bundled up in spider-ridden boots, dirty old work gloves, and my ragged work coat.

Taking up my walking stick, I took off in the dark for the barn. When it is raining or snowing, the sky is entirely black and the silence is comforting. Even though Duke is getting up there in age now and I hate to disturb his sleep, I can never sneak off in the dark without him. He always hears and comes running. The generosity of the dog nation is beyond reproach.

The horses hear me coming as well, and Ginger sometimes makes a low greeting in her throat. Annie rarely makes any noise. She is a horse of few words. She expresses herself in other ways. She chases Duke, plays in the water tank, and routinely scares the bejeezus out of me with her startled stomps and take offs.

The horses are not glad to see me - only if I have food or treats. Otherwise, I am just their noisy servant stomping around in the middle of the night, disturbing their sleep. But, I like going to visit them in the dark. It never ceases to amaze me that thousand pound animals with four feet can silently get within six inches of me to exhale a warm blast of air onto my neck, giving me a heart attack, but they can. Ginger did this to me in broad daylight. She routinely sneaked up behind me when I was cleaning her pen. She worked to perfect her technique.

Duke is never off duty, marking his territory all along the path to the barn, even in the dark. If I am not paying attention I sometimes run into him if he has stopped to claim a spot where a coyote or other intruder left a scent. He always goes ahead of me on the path, peeing on things every few feet. I think it is the canine equivalent of the red carpet treatment.

Once I get to the barn, I turn off the headlamp. I only need it to make sure I do not trip and fall down where Duke can enthusiastically lick my face. Duke will be twelve years old next spring and he still has not learned to not lick and slobber and breathe stinky dog breath all over me if he gets the chance. The four words he always hears: "*#@ *&@$^& #&, Duke!" have no meaning or effect on him. I believe he assumes that is the sound humans make which means "carry on enthusiastically."

Duke snuffles around the hay and usually takes off in the dark while I am at the barn. When I get tired, or too cold, or resign myself to going back to bed, he is often so far away that I can not hear him at all. I know there is nothing in the dark that will harm me, (unless there should be a rabid skunk), but sometimes I hear something big rustling through the prairie and I certainly hope it is the ol' Dukester. It always is. I can never sneak away from the barn without Duke running up to escort me back to the house.

It is a good thing to go out to the barn at night. The warm bodies of the horses are dark shapes silently passing next to me. I run my hands down their soft necks. Sometimes, if Ginger will stand still long enough for me to lean against her warm side, I place my arms around her neck. She only tolerates this because she believes royalty should always treat servants with civility.

Sometimes the wind is what I want to listen to. Sometimes it is the silent snowfall, or the gentle mist of rain. Sometimes it is the stars. Late in the winter, it is the owls calling eerily along the creek. Sometimes it is the moonlight that calls me to the little rise where the barn sits. Sometimes it is simply a restlessness in my spirit and the need to reconnect with the energy of this place I call home. Sometimes thoughts of the future crash through my reverie, ruining my sojourn. There will likely come the day when I will have to move to town - go live in a dinky little apartment some place where the only animal I will be allowed to look after might be a cat, if I am lucky. If I am damned, I will have to go to a rest home. I know what happens to crazy old women who try to wander away from rest homes, or want to roam the night in their nightgowns and winter boots.


Anonymous said...

I didn't want to disturb the silence, or startle you. I think it's important to remind you of this great truth: Crazy people GET to wander around however they choose!

Li'l Ned said...

Another wonderful post. And lest you think it isn't possible to sneak out of the old people's home, track down this movie: Children of Nature. It's in Icelandic, with subtitles, so I don't know if it's available on Netflix or its ilk. But so worth it. Just don't watch the beginning, or at least be forewarned about a sad doggie death.......

This movie hatched a desire in me to travel someday to Iceland. A later film, by the same Icelandic director, is also totally fascinating/hilarious/wonderful: Cold Fever. For some inexplicable reason, it is in English! I don't remember the director's name, something Icelandic like Sigurd Sigurdson or Jans Janssen or Lars Larssen ....

Jackie said...

Kit, I only have one thing to say about crazy people getting to wander around - not if you are really old. The Old People Police keep you locked up.... Brutal.

Jackie said...

I will see where to get my hands on those movies! I love finding those wonderful gems from other countries - music, movies, books, art. The corporations have America so locked down that we rarely get to see anything truly creative. We are like those aphids a certain species of ant "farm". The ants keep the aphids happy and the aphids expel nectar from their rears, only we expel money.

Li'l Ned said...

Yikes -- comparing us to aphids?!!!!! Scary, and low. And also a great analogy. Hopefully, we are at least excreting 'honeydew' :) And perhaps this observation explains why I have NEVER gotten along with ants!