Tiny raindrops turned to sleet on my windshield as I pulled into the barnyard, their images only adding trepidation to my thoughts of whether it would be prudent to venture out or wait for the next day. But there before me stood three horses all saddled and ready to go, and two friends who seemed game for the adventure.
“Do you guys want to ride in this?” I shouted to them as I got out of the car, grabbing an extra coat and a knit cap that I hadn’t worn since last winter.
“Sure!” they said back, “We’re all ready.”
“Well then we might as well go,” I replied. “There’s only an hour or so of daylight left and the next three days are calling for showers.”
We quickly added chaps and slickers to our already bulky outfits, shaking dust from the gear that had been hanging in the tack shed for the better part of last summer and fall. “Put these on; It’s only going to get colder and the storm clouds are rolling in,” I said. So with our extra layers we sank into wet saddles and headed out.
The ponies pranced away from the comfort of their corrals as we rode away, their hooves making soft divots in the damp ground that was dark red from the recent rain. We went a mile or so, checking on a neighbor’s camp trailer that had it’s door blown open with the gusts of the approaching weather.
“How are you guys doing? Do you want to keep riding?” I asked.
“Sure!” they answered. So on we went.
The color of the sand was starting to change before our eyes as the temperatures cooled and the persistent snowflakes stayed frozen atop the desert floor.
“Look at the ground, it’s turning pink,” I said.
And as we trotted across Professor Valley we watched the desert turn from reds to white. My yellow slicker was also turning white as the wet snow stuck to my shoulders and arms, acting as a heavy insulating layer that strangely made me feel warmer. As dusk fell we headed for home, happy to have cheated Mother Nature from keeping us inside, and for being able to see the stunning transformation of the desert.
Late the next afternoon, after a day spent working inside, we ventured out again, only to see the same desert with an entirely different look from the previous day. Sandy washes whose dry bottoms had filled with snow the evening before were actually streaming with slush, and our horses snorted at seeing water run where there had been none before. The desert was dripping everywhere, from the branches of junipers to the crevices of sandstone boulders. The desert vegetation had enjoyed a huge drink and a much needed blessing before getting tested by winter’s whimsies.
The holidays have come upon us with lightning speed, replete with the demands and frenzy that so often overpower the meaning of thanks and gratitude. What a strange study in contrasts, like the desert turning from dry to dark then white and wet. As I get ready for Thanksgiving and feel the pressure of things that need to be done, I will think back to that dance on the desert and savor the peace and tranquilizing essence that the holidays are meant to impart.