Monday, August 22, 2005

I'm Back . . . in Several Pieces

It's hard to sum up nine days spent on a horse, riding the open range and marveling at my life - suddenly without cell phone range, Internet access, newspapers, radio or television. It was gloriously quiet without the blood-curdling grate of the day's news summary.

Instead, the nightly soundtrack included the gurgling river running outside the door, the blonde nibbly mouse ever-curious about what treats we might've packed and the distant howling of coyotes, baying at the full moon. Morning came and the music changed: Roosters crowing, dogs barking, horses nickering, peacocks screeching, ducks quacking and the new baby goat, Riley (born while I was there,) wobbling into the yard on new legs, making tiny squeaks and getting a lay of the land.

When we climbed into a van on Friday night and headed out to the local rodeo in Dubois (pronounced Du-bowz, in some anti-French effort,) someone flipped on NPR and it was all I could do to plug my ears and sing "Jingle Bells" off-key in defiance. Trouble in the Middle East? Shocking! Iraq not going well? Who knew? As far as I could tell, the world hadn't fixed a thing in my absence. Lazy bums.

Symbolically, to kick off my week of well-deserved ignorance, I managed to lose my eyeglasses within hours of landing in Jackson Hole. Cozied up alongside the Grand Tetons, surrounded by elk preserves and whatnot, the beauty is hard enough to grasp without everything being fuzzy. I type this now with an old pair - split in half at the bridge - sitting precariously on the helpful chub of my nose. My bottom lip is burned to a crisp, as are both my shoulders. My inner legs are green and purple with bruises, earned by clinging to the body of Apollo, an excitable Arab gelding with an extended trot. My nails have all broken off and my credit card is maxed.

In other words, I've never felt better.

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