Rereading my notes from the ranch is like diving into cool mountain water on a humid South Carolina afternoon. I’m enjoying it immensely and I sincerely appreciate your indulgence in allowing me to keep writing about our days out west. The processing is slow and long-winded and it’s likely I enjoy it more than y’all do.
In regular life news it was a busy weekend – flag football and friends for dinner, editing a novel and cleaning house, ice cream contests and uplifting gatherings.
It’s raining now and we’re all tucked inside in relative comfort and I’m pulling out my journal to see what Tuesday at Lost Valley looked like this year.
The notes are a little rag tag, less paragraph and more bullet point-ish.
And now here they are …….
6 am wake up call. Which is really my 8 am if I pretend I’m in South Carolina. (Since Dad is with me on this trip, I can take advantage of the early morning adventures offered and the kids can all still sleep in and meet up together at breakfast.)
Cold, vest zipped up. Maybe six of us gathered at the corral for the pre-breakfast ride with our wrangler Zach. Gorgeous weather, crisp sky.
In just a few minutes we’re saddled up and it’s not long before we’re loping and I cannot NOT smile. Instantly, I also feel the familiar pain (in my literal bum) of sitting on a saddle and then comes the painful trotting. Back to loping again soon though and I care about Nothing In This World Except Exactly Where I Am and that is always Enough because how often does that get to happen in regular life?
We’re heading to Helen’s Rock and mule deer are watching as we trot around the corner and then – she was waiting for me. PIke’s Peak. All glorious and snow capped and beautiful. She belongs to me now, you know. In some dreamy way, she’s mine.
Each ride it seems I keep being grouped with this one fantastic family, so much so that it’s like they’re mine now too somehow and I like their stories and I’m watching their interactions and it’s both a show and an education. I love that line from the poet Tennyson, “I am a part of all that I have met.” And that means, for me, that the converse is true too – all that I have met is a part of me.
I like my growth, slow and sporadic as it has been.
I can tell people now (and I do) that I genuinely love my life.
I love my people and I like my trajectory and I’m happy and I believe (quite strongly) that Happy is not my goal, nor my life’s purpose, but I’m glad to be happy anyway.
(And I don’t just love life at Lost Valley, I love it in South Carolina too.)
After the ride (with hot chocolate on this high rock here as we rested from our ride for a few minutes and stared at my friend Pike’s Peak) we enjoyed a breakfast in the lodge. Pancakes with strawberries on top with Amy and Dad because 6 am earns me a pancake if I so choose.
The kids were all on their own wrangler-led adventures for the morning so I spent some time in the hot tub, pretending it was a water massage. I leisurely showered and leisurely dressed and leisurely fixed my hair. I did everything at a pace that says, “time is my friend”.
I sat by the pool. I wrote some of this. I wrote a letter. I wrote in Mosely’s life journal. Chatted with a few staffers. London eventually joined me. Berg and Otto gathered fishing supplies, hopeful to catch their own dinner. I just sat there and breathed, deep and slow, happy and satisfied that it was still only Tuesday.
“By Wednesday you feel like butter,” Ted, my ranch friend, told me. I’m already certain he’s right.
There’s a request form that sits on a dresser in our cabin – you can ask for more pillows or shampoo or a stuffed horse for all I know. And I find out that London has taken matters in to her own hands when I see her standing there, holding a stack of extra blankets and grinning. “I requested these. For Otto. He’s sleeping on the floor. It made me sad – I thought he needed extra.” Otto was oblivious to his condition and quite comfortable actually, but I love that London noticed a perceived lack in her brother’s comfort and addressed the situation independently.
Today Otto was invited along on a four wheeler ride with Tony (the ranch’s CEO/boss/chief/whatever his appropriate title is or should be, if I was in charge I might make it king, which is why I am not in charge) and his boys to head to the lake and fish for a few hours. I’m certain you already know Otto felt like he won the lottery. And I found it so humbling that Tony would take my son on an adventure on his own very limited time off.
Tuesday night is Square Dance Night. And we love it. Swirly skirts and all the boys in plaid pearl button cowboy shirts and the good manners are high and I’m just going to go ahead and assume that those manners come straight from the teachings of southern mamas.
I love the square dance – the watching as much as the participating.
Bergen danced this year – although I later learned that Campbell bribed him with the promise of a milkshake the following day. You should have seen that Hawkeye hop and jump and smile all the while.
When the kids head to bed here they’re falling asleep as I am tucking them in. There’s zero effort on my part to encourage them to remain in bed. No asking for water. No reading for an hour. No tossing, no turning – just head to the pillow, see you in the morning.
I decided to cuddle with Otto until he fell asleep. It took all of two minutes.
And the same is true for me.
That’s the secret – right? The cure to insomnia?
Physical activity. Outdoor activity. Forgetting there is an internet. Sunshine. Laughter. Labor. (Repeat.)