Tag Archives: roadtrekking

#Horses and Being

Yeah, I know. I’m writing another blog about horses and my stay here in Indiana rather than writing about—well…writing. I should be enticing you with excerpts from works in progress and deleted scenes from already published novels. Instead, I’m yammering on about my American version of a walkabout. I guess, indirectly I am writing about writing. As authors, our life experiences tend to play out in our work. Sometimes in subtle ways. Maybe we have a friend who is good at knife throwing, so we round out a character by giving her that hobby. A brief, one-line mention, but there it is. Now the reader has a vivid image of a woman thwacking knives into a tree at twenty paces.

What in tarnation, you ask, does this have to do with horses and being? *Drum roll, please.* My current lay-over is on a horse breeding farm, and I want to share with you what happened during my walk home from doing barn chores one night.

The moon was two-thirds full, and cast a silver sheen upon everything. Clouds obscured the stars, so the moon sat like a constricted pupil in the ring of a silver iris. Anyone know the legend that tells of the ring around the moon?

Anyway, the night forced me to pay attention to it regardless of my knowledge in such lore. Was it the pending rain? The ring around the moon? Or forces beyond our comprehension, where the primitive part of us sits up and takes notice? The cats, dogs, and horses certainly seemed affected. They were quiet, yet sought contact. It mattered not what species, so long as there was touch or sharing of breathing space.

This camaraderie continued as I headed for home—a half-mile walk down a long dirt road, where horse pastures bank either side. This night, my walk was accompanied by the horses, who followed along the fence until halting to hang their sage heads over the wooden rail, as though asking me in the silent way of horses, to stop, too.

Anyone who has ever had the privilege to stand near these creatures understands one thing: they are elemental.

So I listened. I stopped to share my breath as they in turn did theirs, their muzzles velvety warm. The cats and dogs remained, laying around together, the cats dragging shepherd-crook tails under the noses of the dogs.

It was a moment of Being. It was just us. A small group—eleven in all. One human, two cats, three dogs, and five horses. Yet the moment felt huge, beyond me, although utterly me. Where I was in that crucible of time was exactly where I was supposed to be. That feeling was paradoxically humbling yet empowering. It fed my heart to continue this trek across America, to push on through my walkabout across an unknown country.

I have no clue where I’ll end up. All I know is that I will wind up somewhere, and when I do I will be where I should be and who I am to be.

Thanks to dogs, cats, and horses. And the moon.

~S.C. Dane

#Road-trekking and Making One’s Home

I’ve been in Indiana for a month and half, having traveled here from Connecticut, and before that Maine. It has taken me a year and a half to get to this Midwestern state from my original starting point: Jonesport, Maine. I might as well have rocketed to the moon, it’s that different. First, my launching pad is coastal. Jonesport sits with her toes in the ocean, and most of her residents earn their livings from the bounty that ocean provides. My first re-fueling station on my travels was North Stonington, CT, which happens to sit mighty close to the historically famous Mystic Seaport.

I didn’t stray far from the scent of briny fog. Plus, I was still in New England, where Yankee sarcasm and ingenuity still thrive hale and strong.

Third stop on my road trek? A moonscape compared to the craggy coast and its spiking spruce trees. Indiana is flat in comparison, with acres upon acres of corn and soybeans. As I drove with one eye on the pavement stretching endlessly before me, and the other scanning the scenery, I developed a queer sensation in my gut. Yes, the sky stretched marvelously above me. Which wasn’t unusual. I’ve been on the ocean with no land in sight.

Land was the difference here. I was traveling across solid ground, not fathoms of an alien world beneath my keel.

Oh, and what a strange land it was compared to what I’m used to! With all that farmland flattened out on either side of me as I drove along, I delved deeper into that hollowness that was my gut. The deduction? All this agriculture without an animal in sight was unsettling. What my farming friends in New England would give for a quarter of the wide open acreage! Think of the many types of vegetables they could plant. They could feed their small collection of livestock right from what they yielded on the farm. Goats, pigs, cows—nothing would go hungry, no pastures chewed down to the roots. Imagine the grazing rotations!

Alas, my Maine heart was saddened by the lack of such diversity. Corn and soybeans. Corn and soybeans. Corn and soybeans.

Not only is the land different, but so, too, are the homes. Granted, I’m generalizing here, but it seems I see more squat houses here in Indiana. Neither do many of the homes have large windows through which to enjoy the view. My suspicions? Tornadoes. Those sovereign entities of hell that would lay waste to the glass walled, high-reaching homes of the northeast.

You wonder then, what with my skin draped ’round my bones without their heart, why I’ve decided to stay in Indiana for a bit?

Frankly, at first, I wondered the same thing. Why didn’t I tuck tail and run back from whence I came?

Well, I’m not big on judging first impressions. I like to give things a little time for their true threads of gold to shine. Staying on in Indiana has achieved what I was hoping it would. With the dust settled from my move and the pace at the farm having grown into routine, I’m gleaning the gems from my daily living. The horses are now familiar, our relationships forming through daily interactions. My early morning hikes to the barn are resplendent with glittering stars in a wide, pre-dawn sky.

It’s the folks here, too, who have allowed me to coax my battered heart back out into the sunlight. A strange landscape this may be, but the people, as they are in New England, are the salt of the earth. They are not alien, but kind and generous. From what I’ve seen so far, they work damn hard for what they have, and are quick to stick out a hand to help a neighbor. Just like the folks I left back home.

So, here I’ll nest for the time being, writing novels and shoveling horse manure, until my longing to travel tickles my feet again.

~S.C. Dane

#Roadtrekking to the Mid-West

#Roadtrekking to the Mid-West

Which explains why my post is a little tardy. I’m on the move. Actually, I’ve finally landed after driving for two days, but there are a lot of details and ducks to get in their rows. Internet service being the first biggie. I didn’t have it for almost a week, and couldn’t blog until I got it.
Fine by me. I had a lot to do once I parked my Roadtrek van for a permanent rest. Moving into a new home is never easy, and I’m doing it on my own. My traveling pal SalGal isn’t much help, either. Sure, she’s great on the road, but do you think I could get her to lift a paw and lug the belongings? Do you suppose she’d help me clean the new place before I unpacked? Uh-uh. No can do, she says. Sal’s tired from watching me drive. The passing scenery exhausted her.
What was my response to her throwing in the towel? I shrugged, dipped a shoulder like a charging bull, and tackled my new living quarters. Cobwebs and other peoples’ dirt: Beware! I had a mission, and would get myself settled before starting the new job if it killed me. Or forced me to skip meals.
Got it done, too. The place looks as good as it can, and with my own belongings arranged around the house, it’s feeling home-y. And ready for me to come home from a hard day on the farm to write.
So, you wonder, where am I? Where did I road trek to exactly?
Answer: Indiana.
What fun! You say? Or, are you wearing a perplexed expression like most everyone else I’ve told about my move. Indiana? What the heck is in Indiana?
My new job, for starters. Yeah, it was nearly one thousand miles away, but that was the point. I’m road-trekking. Eventually, I’ll work my way clear across this beautiful country. I’m not independently wealthy, which means I take on horse-y jobs to pay for my journey. And I write.
Despite the blank expressions from Easterners, Indiana is going to be a cool place to conjure my next novel. The wide open space reminds me the sky is the limit. I can do everything I’ve set my heart on doing. Will it be hard? Heck, yeah. I’m working full time on a farm. At the end of a day, I’m tired.
But it’s a gorgeous farm with gorgeous horses. And lots of countryside around me on every side so I don’t freak out. Cities wig me out and wear me down without feeding my spirit. So the remoteness of the farm, and the proximity to the animals and the earth are like blood for my body—necessary.
The writing will come easy. Do I wish I already made enough to finance a switch-aroo, where I could write all day and work the earth part-time instead of it being the other way around? Sure, I do. I’m just not there yet. I’m paying my dues. Running the gauntlet.
Someday. Someday, I won’t be the starving artist. Someday I can devote my attention to my readers and the stories they want. For now though, I’m enjoying the ride. Not only am I meeting wonderful people through my writing, but I’m meeting beautiful people everywhere I’m traveling. For those cynics who think the world is going to hell?
Maybe it is. But I’m discovering that in those small towns, and even in the big ones, or in the most unlikeliest of places, I’m running into good people.
So, my road-trekking has reaped some unseen rewards. I didn’t know when I started my walkabout what path my life would take. Has it been hard at times? Of course. But not so difficult I’m cowed by the unknown that lies ahead of me.
I have all the people I’ve met, in person and virtually, to thank for my courage to press onward with my dreams. I’ll keep shoveling manure, scraping the dirt from under my fingernails, and writing till my tired eyelids flutter shut.
Because my spirit is sated and electrically alive.
~S.C. Dane