I saw a shooting star last night against the canvas of the night sky. One brief flash among a backdrop of many as it was trying hard to be noticed.
In the morning I wake to the golden rays of sunlight creeping through hidden corners as the moon drags the darkness from the sky. I lie there - snug among blankets, encased in these gentle canyon walls. The rain of Cottonwoods. We are the only occupants at Lower Plum Creek, Lake Meredith. A hidden canyon just north of Palo Duro cut and molded by the rough hands of the Canadian River.
The trail is overgrown and the dog follows behind, her little head lost in the tall grass. Popping up now and then like a jackrabbit out of nowhere. But she is built for agility this one – an Australian Shepard small and nimble - with a spine as flexible as a wet dish rag and she keeps up.
Somewhere in the thick brush I lose my way mired in switchgrass and rivercane and here I decide it must be time to rest. To listen to the whispers of this land who always seems to know better.
I tie the horse to a branch and lie down amid soft buffalo grass, pulling my hat over for shade. The dog joins me. Together the sun and earth work their way through the aches and pains of driving, easing into every curve. Warming me from the outside in. I reach upward toward the sound of leaves rattling in the wind.
There is no one else here to break the silence, only the expanse of this earth who speaks in the murmur of wiry grass, tumbled rocks, and the sound of rain through green leaves. These are her words. These are the bones of everything.
When it’s time I stand, dust off and place one hand on the saddle horn stretching to reach my stirrup.
We continue down the park road and detour through another campsite. There, immersed in a mixture of Purple Three-awn and sandburs I spend the next 20 minutes muttering expletives and brushing out the dog and myself with a pocket-knife - about the only thing you can do really - an antithesis to the soft grass I napped in earlier. Somehow the horse is untouched.
We ride on and water at a concrete trough where I turn the horse toward camp and boot him forward. He doesn’t always want to go home, this horse. Kept under cover the years before, confined to an arena. A paddock. Perhaps because of this he knows me better than I know myself.
It’s hard to surrender what you’ve never had - never received. To give up the quest for that which you yearn and clear the residue from your heart and soul. It is what keeps me wandering. It's what keeps me sane.
For more about Lake Meredith: https://www.nps.gov/lamr/index.htm