January 24, 2022
The wind had finally subsided. The day was beautiful.
The snow melt that filled the creek was cold, but the air was warm, and the horses were fit, and needing some exercise. Mares and geldings made up the small herd.
Once upon a time the creek in Chilao ran for most of the year. Those days were over. Grace didn't want to miss this opportunity to experience the cold, clear water.
The creek crossing was the easy part. Some rigorous terrain lay on the loop Grace chose through Chilao. Skye lead the way on the mare Dani Girl as they returned to the ranch, through the recent burn. Grace brought up the rear on Jesse. The whole endeavor had gone without a hitch, until right then.
Without warning, Charmer bolted.
In a flash he was off, running full speed over the rugged terrain, running for the sheer joy of running. Grace went after him on Jesse. Skye worked to hold the rest of the horses together on the bank of the seasonal stream that fed Chilao Creek.
Grace heard the unmistakable sound of a helicopter as L.A. County Fire made a pass directly overhead. And Charmer ran even faster. Jesse gave it everything he had, trying to close the gap on the bigger, longer legged, made to run Charmer.
And then, Charmer made a sweeping turn, back toward the herd. Past Grace and Jesse, past the other horses, past Skye and Dani Girl, plunging himself into the stream, leading the way home.
And the rugged land fell silent again.
What a ride!
Back at home, Skye had found the rest of the deer herd, and solved their tipping issues, although not before the fawn had sustained some minor injuries in a tip-over and fall. It would be all right. Nothing Skye couldn't repair.
Grace and Skye watched the sunrise unfold.
"What do you think?" Skye asked.
"There's some clouds in there" Grace answered. "If you paint it, you could title it 'suspicious skies.' I think it would be hard to paint though."
It wasn't quite as warm as it had looked when they went out to see the sunrise - 39 degrees. Jackets probably would have been a good idea. As Skye tried to get warm, Grace produced a shiny gold box.
"This package came for you yesterday Skye."
Packages were always exciting. Skye read the tag out loud.
"To Skye from Little Elecktra."
And then she made short work of the packaging. A new shirt, custom made for Skye, a commemoration of very sad events in Indian Country as the graves of hundreds of boarding school children were being unearthed in Canada, and yet an affirmation in the same breath. Every Child Matters, it read, with a bear paw beneath the words.
"I love this. I love it. I love it. I'm going to try so hard to keep it clean."
Except for the sun's rise and the sun's setting, Saturday was cold and cloudy, but at Studio Skye, things were happening. Deer things.
As Skye settled in to paint, Grace noticed the clouds taking on color, and went outside just in time to catch the last few moments of the sunset, with its strange and glorious beams of light.
Sunday morning found Skye back in the studio.
"I have more work to do on the fawn still."
"While you're waiting for the paint to dry, let's go for a ride" Grace said. "I want to see if we can find Petrichor, and if he still has two mares."
"Can I ride Dani Girl again?"
The wind picked up just as the girls approached the rugged pass that Petrichor frequented.
Skye held Gunner while Grace traversed the jagged rocks.
The wind made it difficult to know for sure, but Grace thought she heard what might be horses, so she pressed on. Her persistence paid off. soon her beloved Petrichor came into view.
Petrichor appeared conflicted. He recognized Grace; his ears swiveled forward and sideways and his muzzle twitched, but he would remain at a distance.
After a few moments, he turned and trotted away from Grace over the rough terrain. He returned to his small band, and together they slipped away into the wild land. At least she saw him, and the new mare and foal. They all appeared to be well, and Petrichor seemed to become more and more like a real wild stallion as his herd grew.
Grace noticed the singe and the greening in the controlled burn. The heat singe in the trees can take a while to be visible. And likewise it can take a while to be replaced by fresh pine needles. The yuccas were already greening up.
Skye was quick to return to her studio when the ride was over. Grace soon followed.
"Should I add flowers to the doe and fawn? Or something to the buck?"
"I like them they way they are" Grace replied. "What was your goal in painting these?"
"I was hoping to show them as part of the landscape. You know the way you can be looking right at them and not see them, or the way they appear out of nowhere on the highway."
"I would leave them just as they are then" Grace replied. "You have achieved an...organic cohesiveness, if you will...with the colors, a natural simplicity that says, I think, what you intended to say with minimal explanation."
Skye liked the sound of "organic cohesiveness."
And so it was. Another piece for the barn art show completed, and January brought to a close.