In preparation for Christmas and the New Year, stock tanks must be filled to the brim for horses, cattle, and deer. Olivia Gywn Needham poses while filling the Pecan Tree Pasture water trough. On this day in late November, she incessantly asked, “What are we going to do next, Grandpere?” I ran out of chores before she ran out of energy. Chores are play at this time in her life. Being with Olivia makes chores enjoyable, festive, and less burdensome. I have seen, as you have, fathers and mothers, grandfathers and grandmothers, bring the child into the tasks of the day that must be completed before the dark. Integrating the child with what we have to do gives them a sense of belonging and purpose to the day, and, I think, it gives us a sense of renewal that the world just might continue to endure with a piece of us after we depart.
This young woman is Jennifer Connell, my daughter-in-law, and she is engaging Star, Sweet Hija, and Fanny (looking over Hija’s withers). Jennifer is in her second year of law school at Texas Wesleyan University. Recently married to my step-son, she also works at Wesleyan to help defray expenses. As we were walking back to the ranch house, she said that she wants horses again in her life, as she had been around them growing up in north Texas. The New Year for Jennifer will be difficult, attending school, settling into her marriage, and working. But, beneath the stress and grind, she prevails into the year, performing in class and rewriting her notes for clarity. The New Year for her and Michael, her husband, will bring accomplishment of goals that will set their path for the future. Star, the paint, when Jennifer visits, will lower her blood pressure and give companionship that only a horse can do. “There’s something about the outside of a horse, that is good for the inside of a woman.” And, a man.
This is Brenda, my wife. While in Santa Fe she noticed that several shops had closed and that inventory stock was down at several businesses. Our stay in Santa Fe this year was a rest from teaching and tending our ranchito (anything less than 2,560 acres is not a ranch, see John Wesley Powell). The New Year for Brenda will be, like mine, sacred and profane, toil and rest, sky-high and ocean-low. Like Olivia and Jennifer, in the photos above, we will endure and with some deliberation, maybe we can occasionally play through our days and nights, finding a self-loss in the rhythm of nature’s beauty out here in the West.
To my friends, to my fellow bloggers, to my family, to my dogs and cats and horses, trees and grasses, and the wildlife of the American Southwest:
Happy New Year!