Winter has gone. With that my job as a winter caretaker comes to an end. It has been an amazing experience to live away from civilization for an Alaskan winter. Amazing if you like solitude, serenity, tranquility, with a few moments of loneliness, anxiety, and urgency. Now that spring is here I am awaiting a plane to pick me up and drop me back into the real world as we know it.
What is next?
I am not sure. As always, there are options, opportunities and choices. Why is it such a difficult task to decide on the next steps? Change, maybe?
Today, I had a day with the horses. It was a good day.
We have 17 horses that spend all year living outside. No heated stable, no roof. We feed them horse feed year round. During the winter that is their only food supply. They are tough. During the cold season they come in every morning, finding their place in the corral, where we tie them up for the daily feeding. Once they are done we let them go.
Today, we decided to follow the horses and see how they spend the day. It was a life lesson.
After getting their much-loved breakfast pellets, they decided to take a digestive nap in the morning before leaving the corral. After an hour of basking they trotted of into a swampy valley to munch on some fresh greens. Leaving plenty of new grass for tomorrow they headed uphill to an open area, clear of willows and alders. This seemed a good place for a nap. Some horses lied down, rested their heads on the soft tundra. Some closed their eyes…
Others stood in the warm sun, motionless for minutes. The rest found enough to graze on without much walking around. One horse, Ember, had enough of this and walked back.
Another hour went by and the group slowly headed to a boggy area. Most of the time we could easily keep up with their pace. That bog was good for another 2 hours of grazing.
I had brought a book about the PCT. The author was in his 60s, when he walked all the way from the Mexican border to Canada in about 6 months. He reports not only on the daily stages and events, but also on his inner journey. Having been fired from his job, he started out angry, disappointed, and questioning his purpose in life. His job was a corner stone of his life. In the beginning it was important to him to meticulously keep track of the miles hiked. That became irrelevant after a few weeks. The experiences that you cannot quantify, only feel, became most important.
Watching the horses, contemplating my own future, I stopped worrying. It was a great day, sunny, warm, few mosquitoes, surrounded by plenty of lingonberries from last year, a fantastic view of the mountains, the tundra awakening from hibernation…