Going on behind the scene of Earthwise and the Alabaster Horse, I write essays. I am building my collection so that I can someday turn them into a book. Occasionally, an essay appears as a blog post in a shorter, condensed version. To give my readers an additional taste of the words I write, from time to time I will include excerpts of essays here as well.
The following passages are from my essay “Across the Way.” This essay arose from the photo below I took one unseasonably warm 50 degree January day in north central Montana, as I was riding my horse Evaristo.
If someone had handed me this photo and queried, “Guess who this is?” I would pause. I would study the horse first. I’ve always known horses better than people. The shadow of the horse hints at the arched neck of Evaristo, as well as his strong, compact body. In the shadow I can see his long, flowing tail. The shadow does not show the glow of Evaristo’s grey-white color. Nor his darker grey mane, a winter waterfall down his neck. The shadow does not tell of his brilliant and mischievous nature. Or of his intelligence and incredible athletic ability. His large, round brown eyes that shine with the universe of life are not shown either. In the end, though, I would name the shadow-horse as Evaristo. His topline tells the story. The faint arch to the shadow’s neck, short back, and lightly muscled but balanced and powerful hindquarters can’t hide.
The rider? If I had not guessed the horse to be Evaristo, I would be unable to name the rider. Only I ride Evaristo. In Montana, that is. We are a blend of horse and woman, shaken but not stirred, on a journey together. Several times a year Evaristo and I travel to another state to learn more about bringing horse and woman together from a horseman. This horseman rides Evaristo. Evaristo turns into a powerhouse of life under the horseman. They dance across the arena. Then I climb on Evaristo and feel what will be, someday, between us.
I study the shadow rider on the shadow of Evaristo. I cannot tell if it is male or female. I cannot tell its age. All I can say is, the rider sits the horse well at that moment. But the horseman is far away, so it has to be me, there, across the way.
The shadow depicts us as flat. As inert and monochrome. I wonder about this. What if I were to color the shadow? What if I enriched it with movement and spirit? What if I puffed away at the shadow like it was a deflated balloon and it gained three dimensions? What then?
Across the way, the shadow would come to life. The bellows of its lungs would lift ribs up and down, both horse and rider. Suddenly, the horse would glow grey. Yes, grey. Evaristo can be no other color, no fanciful lavender or green. The rider in a blue coat, cap over curly brown hair, and tan leather leggings with fringes. Strangely the fringes of the leggings are an echo of the grass fringes above the shadow. Their spirits would expand with their lungs. The horse; a spirit woven in and big as the night sky. Me? Well, my spirit fits inside of Evaristo’s. He carries it with his and looks after it. The shadow takes a step. Then another. And another. Smooth and effortless. Me, as shadow, rides the nuance of each step. My shadow rider feels each breath and muscle movement of the horse. Me, as my real self, still has to concentrate to feel these things in each moment. Across the way, my self as shadow rides in perfect harmony.
Where do my essay ideas come from? Good question! Like the excerpt above, some arise from a picture, something I’ve come across while out on the land, a memory or experience. Many sprout from a seed of a thought, or an arresting passage I read that gives me pause to think “why?” or “that sentence was beautiful in words and image, can I create my own?” Consequently, my essays may contain all, one or several of these elements. Many times, the words flow and I can not say from where. Sometimes, I will read a piece I’ve written in the past and wonder where the words arose from. I love how Elizabeth Gilbert speaks of our creative processes in the TED Talk below. Give it a view. It may give you a whole new insight into moments of your creative life when you have scratched your head and queried, “Now where in the world did that come from?”