Monday, September 8, 2008

A ride in night

What a cold, ugly, rainy day it is today! Our office/den is almost as dank as a basement today. Why, you ask? Perhaps it has something to do with the clogged gutters on the apartment building's roof! Guess where that water went? Into the outer walls of my apartment and others.

My books, once neatly aligned in bookcases, are now stacked all over one side of the den, leaving the wet half exposed and bare of furniture. I hate disruptions in the orderliness of my life but I think I can deal with this for the time being. Yeah, I'm a neat freak--I can't help it!

I think kisses from Limerick, hot oatmeal with brown sugar, and being curled up on the couch with a blanket, football on TV, hubby to one side, and big fluffy Maine Coon on lap is the solution for the day!

I sure wish Limerick could join us on the couch. I don't think she will like it too much, though. And you know what? The couch would be a little cramped. She's a smallish horse but still, her butt is the equivalent of four of my butts, and that's a lot of butt for a couch to handle.

Maybe on my future horse property, I could set aside one large stall as a "barn living room" complete with couch, rug, bookcase, and television. That way the horses can hang out with us! Or I can make do like a certain Barrington stable and have the living room right up next to the stall of Limerick, complete with window for her to poke her head through and watch football with us. Oh, how I envy those people right now!

Anyway, Lim got kicked in the fanny on Thursday so she has a hematoma on her butt--again. It doesn't look too bad but she is obviously lame at the trot so I'm giving her some time off while it heals.

But on Wednesday we had a sweet ride--in the dark! It was an overcast day to start with so by the time I had Lim saddled up and ready to go, it was quite gloomy. But there were three other horses and riders in the outdoor arena so I decided to join them. So we rode among the dust and dusk. Past Limerick's bay head, everything was muted and gray. I haven't been riding much with other people lately so it was different and fun.

After a while, the other three riders dismounted and left. I knew it was getting darker but I didn't think it was that dark yet. Sure, the white rail around the arena and the gray horses in the pasture next to us were ghostly in the deepening gray and blue. And every time someone drove by, the headlights were bright and oh-so-piercing! But otherwise I could see fine and I knew Lim could see even better than me. So we trotted on!

We cantered and she seemed so thrilled and enlivened with spirit; so much more so than our daytime rides. I knew how she felt--I run best in the dark, too. There's something about night that fills you with primal energy and connects you to your roots, when night meant hurrying, fleeing, running home before the sharp-eyed nocturnal predators found you.

So here we were, two diurnal prey animals (OK, one omnivore), cantering faster and faster in the deepening darkness, the sandy arena glowing before us, the trees and shrubs pitch black along the edge, Lim's head and ears flicking to and fro, always attentive, my hands tight on short reins, my back flat, my body in a deep two-point, well aware that Lim could run at any instant but loving every second of it.

We walked and cooled off. Back at the barn, I turned around and looked at the arena. I could hardly see it--it was truly dark. We had ridden in the dark! I had been aware of it, yet somehow doubting it thanks to my night vision and here I was, looking at a pitch-black sky. There was no doubting it now.

Something horrible happened to me yesterday. Some of you know that one of my greatest fears on Earth is of wasps. There's even a technical term for it--spheksophobia. Yup, I have spheksophobia.

Yesterday I set out for a long run. I ran over to the Danada trails and decided to head over to the grass racetrack on the other side of Naperville Road. Once there, I ran around the track (I admit it, I broke into a "gallop" after checking to see no one was around. Wheee, was that fun! Why don't us humans "gallop" more often? It's much easier on the joints than running, after all, and a rather quick way to travel. Food for thought right there!). When I had made one circuit, I decided to check out the metal starting gate at the head of the track. For once I was not on a horse or bicycle and free to move around the gate.

So I opened the gate and walked through the stalls, just checking things out here and there. I walked to the front of the gate and closed one of the gate flaps. As I did, I happened to look at my right hand. Beneath my hand, beneath the gate latch my hand was on, was an enormous paper wasp nest. And not only that, but it's horrible inhabitants were beginning to emerge from the loathsome paper tunnels.

I swear they were looking at me!

I didn't even think. I took off running as fast as I could. I ran and ran and ran, 110% convinced that the wasps were hot on my heels. I remembered how angry wasps were at the end of the summer, how angry they were at dusk. D'oh, early September, dusk! They were out for death! My legs burned. I ran on. I began to look behind my shoulders. I didn't see them. Where were they?! I ran some more. Looked again. Slowed just a bit. My heart galloped wildly within my chest and my thighs screamed in pain.

Then I realized I was running in the opposite direction from where I wanted to go. I would have to run by them again! Nooooooo!

I slowed to a walk. I hoped and hoped that someone would bike or walk by. Crazily, I hoped I could talk such a poor sap into accompanying me past the gate, not unlike a pony guiding a frightened, wild-eyed racehorse. The sun had almost completely gone over the horizon. My vision was a sea of orange and gold. Tall stalks of goldenrod and ragweed and prairie grasses--taller than me--lined the sides of the limestone trail I was on. I was doomed!

Long story short, I finally worked up the courage to run by the starting gate again. Yes, I ran as fast as I could, for as long as I could. I have to admit it was an excellent workout.

My speksophobia convinced me that there were wasps in my clothes for hours afterwards, and my right hand--the hand that had been over the nest--tingled like something awful.

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