Morning was veiled by a curtain of rain. Even the sheep huddled beneath spindly trees seeking fragmentary shelter. Brena and I huddled in her field shelter whilst the trimmer attended to her hooves. I was damp from fetching her, she was wet and muddy from rolling, and the trimmer became filthy from her work on such a dismal morning. And this is summer?
The rain varied from thick drizzle to heavy downpour as the wind pushed by bands of cloud of varying greys. Beneath us the ground reverted to its natural state, which is sodden and sticky.
At least the beast's feet were awarded good marks for balance and strength. Brena is standing up well to long hours of work on the hard chalk trails. Most of her old pre-barefoot hoof has gone. The new now predominates. Soon it will have taken over.
I slept a little at lunchtime, awakeing to a sky clearing in the wake of a departed frontal system fleeing before the stiff cool wind. Rain came and rain went, and the sea wind kept on blowing across this island.
No further invitation was needed. It was off to the barn, hitch railer, load horse and head out, all one slick practiced operation. Then up to the ridge where the car park was empty thanks to the uninviting morning.
There was a lot of mud to scrape off. The upwind side was easy. Brushing the other side it was best to shut my eyes and mouth against a thick cloud of dust, grooming by feel.
Then off along quiet trails, past a group of well-prepared campers (they even had a tiny tent for their dog!) and away. Wind pulled as sun warmed, and I was grateful for three layers of clothes. What has happened to summer?
In the valley trails were wet and slippery, but on the hilltop all that rain had percolated through the chalk already leaving the way hard and dry. Such is this land, a contrast between hard and soft, open and closed, shared and intimate.
It's like a multi-faceted friend, one who is diverse, whose mood varies, who has a long and varied history, yet ultimately can be seen as integrated and whole. Yes, this land is like an old acquaintance to whom I have returned after exile.