Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Light

by Laura Crum

We’ve been riding quite a bit this winter, as the weather has been great. 60 degrees and sunny, most days. I know we need rain, but the truth is we can’t influence the weather by wishing or complaining…so I’ve just been enjoying it. And I’ve been meditating on what is so special about these winter rides.

Its the light. Pure and crystal-clear and sharp, winter light is like no other light. Illuminating the bare trees and dark water—a chilly, brilliant sparkle. Look at the photos below, taken from Sunny’s back on a recent trail ride, as I follow my son on his sorrel horse, Henry, following our friends on two dark horses, down the side of the canyon to cross the creek at the bottom. Doesn’t the light just speak to you?

And again, riding on the beach, awash in blue-- surreal, thrilling winter light, with a breeze tossing the horses’ manes and tails around.
The above photo shows my son on Henry, riding towards Moss Landing, a small town on California’s Monterey Bay.

Of course, much as I love the winter light, I delight equally in the soft green/gold light of spring, and the mellow, full-bodied, dreamy light of summer. Oh, and I love the long, golden slant of autumn light. I cannot say that I have a favorite season. I can say that I love the brilliant light of winter.

I guess light is a subject best illustrated with images rather than words. So here are a few more winter moments from my world with horses.

My barnyard at morning feeding.

Winter roses—this is Crepuscule, that reliably blooms this time of year in my garden, shot from Sunny’s back. The name sounds ugly in English, but means “evening” in French.

My son took this photo of his horse, Henry, coming up our driveway after a ride on New Year’s Day.

Riding down the trail on my fuzzy little yellow horse on a misty day last week. The light is softer, but still has that frosty-white quality.

How about you guys? I know you live in many very different climates—is there anything special about riding in the winter for you? Or is winter just a huge negative, and riding pretty much impossible, or unpleasant at best?

My trail riding here in the winter usually gets shut down by rain. Our trails are all hilly, and if they’re wet they can be slick. And I am, let’s face it, a big baby about conditions. I want to feel safe and uhmmm, reasonably comfortable. So I won’t go riding if its too cold or very windy, or, oh well, you get it. Feel free to call me a wimp.

Today is supposed to be sunny and 65—I’m off to ride the trail that goes down the canyon to Aptos Creek (shown in the first three photos). It’s a nice ride on a reasonably warm day. Since it goes through the redwood forest, it’s a little too cool and shady most winter days. But we’re not having a normal winter (so far). And I might as well enjoy it while it lasts. Happy trails!


Linda said...

I know what you mean about winter light. It casts a lovely hue. All my pictures have a different quality--much more vibrant color. I LOVE winter riding this year, 1, because Cowboy isn't head shaking, and 2, because we are also having a mild winter. I'm riding at home because my husband stored a bunch of stuff in my trailer :/ ...I need to ask him to empty it so I can get back on the trails while I have this window of opportunity. Your area is gorgeous and your temps are to die for. I LOVE the 60's.

Laura Crum said...

Linda--I have to admit 60's are the perfect riding weather. Last week we had a day in the 70's and the poor furry winter horses got pretty hot. But they do great in 60's temps.

I'm so glad to hear Cowboy is doing well. And we ride at home some days, too. We've been teaching our ex team roping horses to pop over small jumps. Lots of fun.

Shanster said...

Such pretty pix! California is quite beautiful.

As long as I can keep my fingers and toes warm, there is some light and it's not windy, I'm ok riding in winter.

Laura Crum said...

Shanster--You are much tougher than I am. But then, those of us from coastal California tend to be weather wimps.

We had a great ride through the redwoods today. But we agreed that if were any colder, it wouldn't have been so much fun (and its 60 in the shade). We might even have had to wear gloves--oh my.

Anonymous said...

You guys are lucky! It's summer here at the moment. In winter we are lucky to get a day with out rain or with sun. Most of the time its overcast, cold and grey and it gets dark really early. To ride, we put on our thick, thick jackets and gloves. That's if we can get a nice day when the ground is not to boggy! I love your pictures!

Francesca Prescott said...

I love your photos Laura. Makes me want to come back to California. I think I rode on the beach near Moss Landing once, a long time ago.Funny how you think "Crepuscule" sounds ugly; it has a really nice sound when pronounced in French!!! I know exactly what you mean though. Pretty rose; lucky you to have roses at this time of the year. I had a few right up to a week or so before Christmas, but they've all gone now.

Every season has a special light; some days have more vibrant light than others. Two days ago was such an incredibly beautiful day here, everything seemed lit from within. Today it's quite hazy and vague. Chillly too!

Laura Crum said...

Wild Horse--Our winters here are often very gray and rainy. So it isn't always like this!

Francesca--You will laugh. When I first got that rose I couldn't believe it had such an ugly name. (I don't speak French--at all.) It was many years before I learned what the name meant and I kept thinking of the poor rose (which is a lovely creature) as the one with a name like a skin disease (!)

HorseOfCourse said...

Wonderful pictures Laura.
And I cannot help but smile, because it seems like we wrote similar blogs about winter time at the same time, a continent apart. No beautiful roses here in Norway!
Like you, I am very happy to have the seasonal changes. But I think I could fairly easy change one or two of my winter months to yours :-) Not the entire winter though!

Laura Crum said...

Horse of Course--I would love to visit and see your winter world. It is so beautiful in the photos you post. But I'm afraid, having spent a couple of years keeping horses where it was snowy and cold all winter, that I am just too much of a weather wimp to deal with those conditions over the long haul. I know I'm revealing my ignorance here, but how do you keep the snow from balling up in their hooves when you ride? That was a problem for me.

Its great to hear from you. I hope all is going well for you and Fame and your family.

Alison said...

Beautiful photos Laura. So far, all I do is pirate pictures from the internet. One day I WILL master digital photos.

HorseOfCourse said...

Thank you Laura.
There is a wonderful invention called Huf-Grips, rubber inlays that forms a ring along the inside of the shoe. Did not exist when I grew up. Keeps the hooves free from snow in all weathers!

Laura Crum said...

Horse of Course--So you must have to shoe in the winter, I take it--in order to use the Grips?

Thank you, Alison. I enjoy taking photos and trying to find nice ones to post. And I love looking at other people's photos--particularly ones with horses in them.