zapata

Be ever so little distracted, your thoughts so little confused, your engagements so few, your attention so free, your existence so mundane, that in all places and in all hours you can hear the sound of crickets in those seasons when they are to be heard-Thoreau

 

kathyongrater
Photo courtesy of Page Steed. Check out her website. You will enjoy her wildlife photography and unique vision.

The crisp chirp of crickets, the low grunt of buffalo, the impatient neigh of horses, the trickling rivulets of water and sand, and blessed laughter; I gratefully heard them all last week while attending the Zapata Ranch Workshop: Women, Horses and the West.

We rode in the morning and discussed literature in the afternoon.

 

riding out
Photo courtesy Page Steed. My mount was Merlin. Slowest horse in the West. He deserves his own chapter. Maybe another day.

Thoreau jump-started our week by helping us adjust our sight as he described ‘Simply Seeing’.

 

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Not so luxurious a soil as to attract men-H.D.T.

 

 

Author Dan Flores proclaimed the Plains are the American Serengeti. He explained how the Plains are ‘a sensuous feast of the minimal’ and how loving the grasslands is embedded in our DNA.

 

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Sunset in the San Luis Valley, Colorado

 

Dr. Bonney MacDonald, Professor of English at West Texas A&M university led our lively afternoon discussions. Bonney is brimming with contagious energy and passion and she had me reading and studying like crazy. If you ever have a chance to hear her speak, you must take it. I love her.

 

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Bonney preparing to ride.

It was a special joy to spend the day….beginning at 4:45 am!….with photographer/geologist Stephen Weaver.

photography

I learned I have a nice camera, but I don’t know how to use it. I made terrible mistakes with my photography this day and lost many a fun capture. I felt like an idiot even though Stephen was unfailingly encouraging. Learning is hard. Guess who will forever check her white balance setting before she shoots another photo?

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Mostly my pony and I sauntered behind the main group. Merlin wore a comforting, plodding cadence and I wore my appreciative grin.

 

Kathy
Photo courtesy of Page Steed

 

There was always an experienced wrangler nearby, just in case someone made a newbie mistake or needed help retrieving lunch from the saddlebag.

 

wranglers
The wranglers. Aren’t they gorgeous? Each and every one extraordinarily smart and gracious. Thank you!

My favorite and most lasting memory of the trip? Well, that would have to be the ladies in attendance! To describe them as professors, music teachers, caregivers, corporate-types, photographers, volunteers and healers somehow fails to summarize their sweeping personalities and spacious hearts. Conversation is a lost art these days. We’re too concerned with being right. Zapata’s legacy for 2017 is the expansion of my mind. Some days it felt as wide and bright as the sky.

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Is it possible my sight was adjusted? Even with the nagging problems with my eyes, was I noticing more?

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What am I hearing/seeing now? A certain gray-muzzled wiener dog impatiently dropping the tennis ball at my feet, the greeting neighs of the-best-old-lady-horse-in-the-world, the Texan watching old Star Trek episodes, and the grands giggling over hauling a perch out of the lake.

Oh, Thoreau! Here’s to fewer distractions, confusions and engagements. Here, here to an uncluttered mind and the blessing of a mundane existence! I’m raising my glass to the sound of crickets. Cheers, everyone. Thanks for reading.

Headin’-west love to all.

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