My Happy Place

My Happy Place

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There is a place that sits on the corner of a sprawling piece of country land. Up the long drive, and nestled in a mature grove, there is a dwelling paved in dreams realized, a few cut short, and those yet to be, by those that call it ‘home’.

A collection of horses greets you on your way up the gravel drive. They stand sturdy, at attention, congregated by the fence, sometimes side-by-side in a receiving line, to get a better look at who has arrived. Occasionally you’ll get a Hello in the form of a deep, rich, eager nicker.

The air here is fresher, the stars are brighter, the furniture is cozier, and my vision is clearer.

An enchanting and deafening orchestra of birds periodically floods the peaceful outdoor soundtrack as they flock and soar in fluid patterns throughout the sky, darting from tree to tree. Just as quickly as it builds, it stops, like turning a light switch on and off.

It is refuge, church, a therapist’s couch, a remote office, and a vacation destination. If there is a place where I’m able to find myself, it is here.

It provides me the opportunity to extend an avenue of my childhood to my babes and walk with them in yesterday and today, simultaneously.

I can feel time spent here with my father as if it were yesterday, now just memories in his physical absence. I feel like he sees me here. I feel like he watches my children run about this beautiful land exploring in the ways his own children spent their days. He would be so proud of them. He IS so proud of them. And he may be proud of me too.

There is a simple yet abundant comfort in knowing that you are welcome and loved. There is an ease that brings out the pieces of me, and my life that seldom get to shine.

I mingle with the memories of caring for our horses until the sun kissed the horizon and finally disappeared. Riding trails with my mother in a squeaky, broken-in saddle. Heading for home each night blissfully dirty and pleasantly exhausted. I remember working alongside my father as we groomed this land from scrub, and the lessons I learned during our time together.

Cozy, nightly, life talk flows between worn leather chairs. We mull over ‘the big stuff’ and as we work out the wrinkles, I find myself able to release some of the weight – see things from the top of a mountain where I’m able to map my next route. I can be still here. I fill a depleted reservoir of contemplation, that can be present as a sole adult in my home, with connection and fresh perspective.

I could arrange gatherings with friends and plan outings during our stay, but I usually don’t. The trade-off is so weighted by the gold that is time spent together, that I more often opt to stay put.

You don’t have to stand in lines and you don’t have to buy tickets. The adventures that are had here far outshine others. It’s waiting for you, just outside the front door.

Little man asked me why I call it home as I was running off a verbal list of what we’d need to pack. After giving that natural label a thought, I realized that I call it home because it feels easy, and warm, free from expectation or struggle or the pull that can be present elsewhere. This place reminds me of who I am without constraint. Perhaps it even allows me to feel like a child of someone again; safe, taken care of – allowing me to step away from behind the wheel just a bit.

The presence and security of my memories here warms me like a hug from familiar arms, a blanket. These memories root me – distract me from my ‘now’ and give me depth.

The babes suit up for chores with Nanni or Poppa each day and I pause to watch them walk together toward the barn. They are full of excitement and questions and there is a spontaneous skip in their step, their bodies charged by the thrill and anticipation of the moment.

We’ve spent years working on pushing past fears. It comes easier for some, you know. The babes practice giving the horses treats from their hands. There is great hesitation from one as he stares a large, hungry muzzle head on. I push the experience beyond this temporary barrier, because my Mama instincts tell me to. It’s a challenge that I know is safe, one that will bring great accomplishment and reward – learning.

We have the same conversation each visit. After talking it all through numerous times, reciting encouragement, by memory, from a mental script I wrote many years ago for use in such situations, he gets a tight grip on the lurking fear and extends a stiff hand. It is met with curious and nimble horse lips searching and grabbing for an apple. There is an immediate reflexive retreat of the hand once the snack has been taken and an instant display of relief follows. It’s not a ‘thank God it’s over‘ relief, rather an ‘I did it. I did it. I did it…‘ relief. He looks at me wide-eyed and with a modest grin and asks to give another. Little sister dives in with loaded giggles, one part nervous and one part thrilled, in anticipation of the encounter.

Watching my babes ride the horses, partaking in something that has brought me such pleasure in my life, fills me to the brim. Their heads bob delightfully to the rhythm of the horse’s gate. I know that feeling – lulling one into a calm and peaceful spot, trusting in the animal and connecting with life. A great amount of respect and insight has been gained atop a horse in a weathered saddle. I crave to share that with my children and feel blessed beyond words that they have access to that experience. It’s a lump in the throat, warm-gut kind of response walking beside them as they ride.

Free run of the land, consuming love, learning first-hand the effects of Earth’s forces, hard work and responsibility, chores, adventure, the animals’ dependence on us for care, and simple fun…all are lessons that are here for the taking.

I want, for my children, meaningful interaction with the ones we love in simple ways – time spent, love felt, stories shared, and character built.
What fills me…

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Happy horses roll a lot.

Where is your happy place?

Comments

  1. “You don’t have to stand in lines and you don’t have to buy tickets. The adventures that are had here far outshine others. It’s waiting for you, just outside the front door.”

    I love this quote. It so puts into words how I feel about our happy place…the cabin. Some may not understand why we choose to spend almost every weekend there from spring through fall and miss out on other opportunities but this is why.

    • Lisa…yes. I have a few official happy places and they are packed full of the good stuff. Your cabin is a blessing. It fills you.

  2. Anonymous says:

    i love you…..nanni

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