Monday, July 10, 2006

Horsey Gossip

Most days on Mt Tiger I walk to the end of the road and back which takes about 70 minutes if I don't dawdle too much. Dawdling is most often caused by the thrill of receiving a text in one of the three places in which there might be sufficient coverage for text messages: if the satellites are lined up, the wind is blowing in the right direction and the moon is in the seventh house. (If you are one of my texting buddies and are wondering why you don't hear from me much or get responses promptly, this is why).

There is one spot on the road where there is reliable enough reception to even talk on the phone. Fortunately it coincides with a wonderful view to enjoy while I am chatting, unfortunately it is a very exposed spot where the wind cuts through any number of layers of polar fleece and thermal underwear.

Sometimes I dawdle to enjoy a patch of sunshine (sun disappears from our house at about 2 in the afternoon) or a lovely scene like my favourite corner pictured here where an old stock yard has become overgrown by young nikau trees. Most of the road is tree-lined, the original farmer(s) obviously decided to leave a couple of metres of bush growing between the road and their paddocks, something I wish was more common. Not only does it make for pleasant walking but it's an ecological corridor for birds, more of whom seem to live on Mt Tiger than just about any other rural environment I've spent time in. It is probably also a defense against erosion as the road is carved into the steep sides of the valley that pocks the centre of the mountain (a big old volcano crater methinks).

My dawdling is occasionally due to a couple of friendly horses, one roan and one chestnut, grazing the crater slopes. Today I could hear one of them neighing long before I reached that stretch of road and soon found out why. The roan mare was being led away along the road by some young women. Turns out that Isis was staying in the paddock in order to breed with the chestnut stallion. They didn't know yet if she had gotten pregnant, but she certainly had gotten muddy! Almost her whole coat was covered in mud (though I don't think horses roll around on the ground while they are Doing It) obscuring the delicate mottling of reddish spots on her creamy coat. She's a lovely gentle horse who didn't seem bothered by being taken away from her paramour. He, on the other hand, seemed quite heart broken and his loud cries echoed round the valley for most of my walk.

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