Let the Mind Take a Photograph

It will not always be like this,
The air windless, a few last
Leaves adding their decoration
To the trees’ shoulders, braiding the cuffs
Of the boughs with gold; a bird preening

In the lawn’s mirror. Having looked up
From the day’s chores, pause a minute,
Let the mind take its photograph
Of the bright scene, something to wear
Against the heart in the long cold.
~Ronald Stuart Thomas A Day in Autumn

Autumn farm chores are good for the weary heart.

When the stresses of the work world amass together and threaten to overwhelm, there is reassurance in the routine of putting on muck boots, gloves, jacket, then hearing the back door bang behind me as I head outside. Following the path to the barns with my trusty corgi boys in the lead, I open wide the doors to hear the welcoming nickers of five different Haflinger voices.

The routine:  loosening up the twine on the hay bales and opening each stall door to put a meal in front of each hungry horse, maneuvering the wheelbarrow to fork up accumulated manure, fill up the water bucket, pat a neck and go on to the next one. By the time I’m done, I am calmer, listening to the rhythmic chewing from five sets of molars. It is a welcome symphony of satisfaction for both the musicians and audience. My mind snaps a picture and records the song to pull out later when needed.

The horses are not in the least perturbed that I may face a challenging day. Like the dogs and cats, they show appreciation that I have come to do what I promised to do–I care for them, I protect them and moreover, I will always return.

Outside the barn, the chill wind blows gently through the bare tree branches with a wintry bite, reminding me who is not in control. I should drop the pretense. The stars, covered most nights by cloud cover, show themselves, glowing alongside the moon in a galactic sweep across the sky.  They exude the tranquility of an Ever-Presence over my bowed and humbled head. I am cared for and protected; He is always there and He will return.

Saving mental photographs of the extraordinary ordinariness of barn chores, I ready myself as autumn fades to winter.

Equilibrium is delivered to my heart, once and ever after, from a stable.

4 thoughts on “Let the Mind Take a Photograph

  1. Just what I needed, Emily, thank you.
    I teach writing to older adults, and in the last two weeks, two of my beloved students have died. It’s taken me down. But reading your post, I can smell the horses and hear them chewing. It’s very calming and filled with love. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, and blessings and love to all you care about.
    Amrita Skye

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is lovely, Emily. Your pictures counter as an appropriate backdrop also.
    A few Christmases ago I found a beautiful Nativity card with a startling portrayal of Joseph and Mary. The tiny newborn, Jesus, is shown sleeping in a small basket or hand made simple cradle.He must have his first ‘real’ meal. Mary was pictured as sitting on a bare floor slumped against a wall, after riding side saddle on a donkey for many hours that day. Joseph was sitting beside her as he hunched toward the new baby in the basket on the floor in front of them. I’m assuming that Joseph had helped her with the arduous birthing process.

    I had never seen Jesus’ Nativity pictured that way. I checked around and found bits and pieces of living arrangements used by innkeepers at that time..
    It seems that the innkeeper and family would use the top floor of the inn as their living area. The guests would be given the first floor as a shelter for the innkeeper’s family animals to provide a safe, warm refuge for the night – especially during cold weather and to ensure that their animals would not be stolen. That surely sounds logical to me.

    I have been riveted by the aura of human love and caring depicted within the artist’s interpretation — a time over two millennia ago that now shakes the very universe itself.

    Liked by 1 person

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