Sunday, June 26, 2011

Thanks Kenny

“You’ve painted up your lips and curled your tinted hair. Ruby, are you contemplating going out somewhere?”

My brain sometimes really gets me. Why oh, why do songs like this early Kenny Rogers lament get stuck in my head and continually circulate, and permeate, my thoughts, over and over and over again? The other day is was Karen Carpenter singing “We’ve only just begun, to live, White lace and promises, a kiss for luck and we’re on our way”. And why exactly is it that the very songs that seem to imbed themselves are the ones that were not my favorite when they came out some decades ago, but now seem to running on a timeless loop with little hope of escaping them. Another one is the song by Gordan Lightfoot about the sinking of the ship wrecked, Edmond Fitzgerald, done in the fine rhythms of a good rolling beer toasting chantey. Oh, and then there are any of the really great songs from the movie Cabaret that we watched recently, with Liza Minnelli belting them out, that get stuck floating round and round in my head. Diversion, please deliver me from these uncontrollable thoughts.

Life on the farm continues hot and slow but this week was graced by several days of afternoon thunderstorms with much needed rain cooling and soothing the plants and animals, my attitude included. This was also the week of my maiden voyage on my young mare, Cistine, a soon to be 4yr old filly who I have been ground driving, lunging, and trying to get her ready for a safe first un-tethered ride. I had been on her with my instructor holding the lunge line a while back, twice very briefly, so I did know that my being on her back wasn’t an issue but the entire rest of the puzzle was not so clear, like what it means to go left or right, and the biggy, whoa. Tuesday was the day I just got on and hoped.

I was over at my neighbor’s farm where there is a Hitchcock ring, an oval shaped pen perhaps fifty or sixty feet at the longest end. It is not as small as a round pen, which can limit a runaway and which I would have preferred, but neither gives any protection from being bucked off. It did have some feeling of enclosure and the sand footing was nice and soft enough for any possible unplanned dismount, and after a bit of lunging to gage her brain function, I put on my helmet and aboard I climbed, all the way up to her 17 hand plus high top of her back.

She stood there, ears pointed to me back there in the saddle, and then walked on when I gave her the words to do such. We did several rounds of the arena, several changes in direction with an easy opening rein action so as not to hurt her sensitive mouth, and we practiced “whoa” many times. She was quiet, relaxed, and interested in the new game we were playing and after a while I got off and gave her a big pat on the neck. She would have preferred a carrot but I was empty handed until we got back to our barn.

To climb onto the back of a young, previously never be ridden, horse is total leap of faith. It is quite a helpless thing to sit there assessing the shape of the animal, to feel its back for the first time, see its reaction to your being there, and have both parties wonder what comes next. The older I get and the more young ones I start, the longer I take with homework to get me to this moment in time. This is a critical step and one that will shape much of the horse’s future behavior from how well, or how disastrous, this first ride goes. There are no controls, no brake system, no seat belt and no air bag and a horse is a very big, athletic animal prone to all sorts of panic attacks which can lead one very quickly to being transported to the hospital should the do-do hit the fan. It is a long road to having a horse get to the spot where they know what you want and are about, and for them to be able and willing to comply. It all has a foundation on this first couple of mounted experiences so one really wants the thing to go extremely well, for many reasons including self preservation.

Cistine did do very well with it all and again several more times this week we repeated the lesson and each has nicely uneventful, ie, I did not come off involuntarily. I had taught her a bit of leg yielding from the ground and she quickly picked up on that from the saddle and was sensitive to the position of my body and would turn with the direction I faced to stay moving in front of me, so it was clear that what I had taught from the ground was paying dividends and carrying over. Long road, but we have had a good week and a good start now.

The hottest part of the day tends to be dealt with by staying indoors and finding diversions there. Yesterday we tended to our young wines, which we started a few months ago. We buy the grape juice concentrates that are from grapes from all over the world, in large cans, and then we add the other stuff, and yeast, to make it turn to five or six gallons of wine. The carboys, the glass fermenting containers, sit on the kitchen counter tops now, roughly eighteen gallons of chardonnay and merlot, wearing t-shirts to protect the light sensitive wines from the sun, waiting to clear before we bottle it soon. Early sampling is part of the job, and yesterday’s drudgery was quite promising and quite tasty.

We also started a new batch of beer, this time we went for a more summer brew, a European styled lager. First we sanitized all of the equipment and then poured the malt extract and water into the kettle and brought the mix to a boil. After a good while it finally got hot enough to begin to boil up rolling bubbles which quickly produced a foamy top. One has to watch carefully at this point that it doesn’t foam over the edge, so monitoring the heat is critical. At some point during this boiling the potential brew, the wort, begins to look a bit like egg drop soup with soft chunks floating around and the foam begins to drop back to the bottom of the kettle. This is called the hot break and it is where the proteins begin to change and drop out of the mix. After the hot break occurred, we then took our big kettle out to the swimming pool to set it in the water to cool it quickly. Slow cooled wort makes for hazy and unstable beer, and we don’t want that come bottling, and then, drinking it time. The wort now sits and bubbles contentedly turning its sugars into beer for the future..ahhh

All our hard labor done, we retired for the afternoon to the pool with our health conscious papaya/pina coladas in hand, and slipped into the water. Sitting on the steps of the pool sipping our concoctions we noticed that the sinking sun was casting low beams of light through the trees at our back and the beams were landing on the trees in front of us, lighting them upside down, making for a very Maxfield Parrish painting style scene, warm and very lovely, each leaf defined.

Another beam found its way bouncing off the water of the pool and was reflected upward into a clump of Spanish Moss. The dancing light bounced and moved through the moss in the patterns of the waves in the pool, and somehow it made me think of fairies, Tinkerbell, and such. It was a visual treat to watch, mesmerizing, and magic, and then the sun set, and it was gone, yet another example of the fragile beauty of the ephemeral.

No comments:

Post a Comment