Happy New Year! What Are We Going to do Next?

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!

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10 Comments

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10 responses to “Happy New Year! What Are We Going to do Next?

  1. I love the photo of Olivia in her polka dots and Santa hat. Such a sweet face. Yes, having children help with chores does give them a sense of purpose, something we all need, and joy to the person who is blessed enough to see their need for purpose and provide it. What better way than filling the stock tanks for the animals. This feels like a prayer for the New Year. Very nice. Happy New Year, Jack, to you and your family!

    • Teresa, Thanks for your comments. Olivia is great help. Keeps me young to be around her. I know you appreciate the reference to give children some sense of grown-up purpose and she really did help.

  2. Happy New Year to you, Jack; and all those you love. Better times ahead…let’s hope. (hope springs eternal, even in the coldest of winter…)

  3. StarkRavingZen

    Happy New Year, Jack. Can’t wait to keep followin’ along. 🙂

  4. Best wishes to you and yours for 2010…

  5. “There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a woman”…”And a man”. So true. It seems reading your words about those relationships calms the blood pressure as well. Thanks Jack, for sharing your life in the Southwest; reflections and observations with us in your eloquent style. Hug a horse for me! All the Best in 2010. PS…love the drifting snow you’ve provided.

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