Terror. Sheer Terror.
I have to do something to keep from crawling out of my skin as we continue on to the next camp, Appaloosa Springs. If I crawl out of my skin, there is nowhere to go but straight down.
Lamaze. I’ll try Lamaze breathing. It was useless to me in in labor, so I might as well find a use for it now. It will give me something to concentrate on.
“Mom! You sound like Darth Vador!”
“Good! That means I’m still behind you. Keep moving and taking pictures for me. If it gets quiet, remember I love you and I want to be sainted for this.”
Lobos, my trusty steed for this week, has temper issues. He doesn’t like being crowded and pins his ears and kicks. This means that two of his four feet leave the ground for an instant while I am on his back at 7200 feet. Not good. Lobos is going to have a come to Jesus meeting with me when I am on flat ground.
Breathe in, breathe out. Breathe in, breathe out.
Eleven miles and some serious ibuprofen later, I slide out of the saddle with as much grace as I can muster.
I knew what it would take to get in riding fit form for this. I used to competitively show horses in the hunter/jumper world. I fox hunted on occasion. You can laugh if you want and think that getting on a horse involves said equine doing all the work for two. Anyone who has spent more than an hour in the saddle, especially men with their extra padding, discovers that there is more than one purpose for a maxi pad.
Ibuprofen. Pharmaceutical grade. Walk casually around the camp trying not to look like Festus. I cannot sit down until we get the tent set up because I know that getting up again will yield a comedy routine from my sons imitating me.
Never let them see you sweat.
The horses have been picketed and we have set up our tents. The steel pack boxes and coolers have been unpacked yielding a cook tent, cook, hors d’oeuvres and water filtered from the river babbling behind us. Nothing has ever tasted so good.
My sons are filling the feed bags and helping feed the horses. My daughter has her perpetual sketch pad out and is working in pencil, creating another stunning scene. With no cell phones, internet, gadgets and ipods, we are sitting around the fire watching steaks sizzle to perfection. The aroma is almost as heavenly as the scent of the wildflowers that surround us. Up on the ridge, about a half mile away, a black bear is digging up roots. The binoculars bring him close enough and he is fortunately not interested in introductions.
The kids have made a swing out of the bear box ropes and are busy spinning each other around and laughing hysterically.
We are actually all talking and laughing. My son is doing his imitation of a dog hanging out the window of a car that has us in stitches. Do it again, Trev, do it again. He willingly complies. Cheeks flapping merrily. I don’t have to check his Facebook page to see what is going on.
This is magic. This collection of moments. Moments that have become to rare in our normal world. I take notice and store this memory in my heart.
Our tent, my husband’s and mine, is right next to the river. We fall asleep to its song. The tent is cozy and warm and the sleeping pad alleviates most of the lumps. When we wake up, there is frost on the outside.
This ain’t so bad.
The weather is perfect and sunny and we have the day to do what we want. We get to amuse ourselves. The rest of my family gets a fly fishing lesson from Mike. I retreat with my books, camera, journal, and the courage of my convictions.
Because I realize what this trip has done for me.
Somewhere on one of those high ridges, I lost my inner critic. The one that keeps telling me my writing is substandard and not worthy of review. You know what? I think I pushed her off the cliff.
It was a mercy killing.
And I begin to write. And I find the joy within my writing. I find the value of my words and the gift of my ability to phrase unique statements and bring a smile to others. I will allow my experiences and my offbeat sense of humor to meld and bring pleasure to others who seek it out.
In being still, movement comes.
Tomorrow, we come off this adventure. I am very sad to see it end. I know there will be some reversion. One can only expect teenagers to be sans gadgets for a finite period of time. But in the time we have been out here together, we have rediscovered each other in a new way. The heart connection is renewed and the joy of being a part of this unique clan is well documented in photos and stories. Momma still don’t camp. But my kids have given me the 2010 Good Sport award.
I’ll take it.
But I still expect beatification at some point.