As I step out of the house, the moon holds bright, shining through thin clouds. Their shapes catch the light, hold it high and translucent. A wide drift of cells, each thin in the middle with a heavier rim, stretches a bright veil of uniform pattern across the sky.
Such light as this seems to come only in the winter here when the air is so clear you can see your breath. Shadows stretch across the ground, long limbs in dark figure stark against the frost. I listen to the sound of my boots against the crust of grass and the thin frozen skin of the earth.
Hearing my steps, the horses step out from the edge of the barn, move toward me and the feed they are sure I bring. I pause beside the round pen as they step over to me. I reach through the slats, scratch Jack lightly at the back of his jaws and he stands still for a moment, his black coat thick and long for the winter.
The ground of the round pen is covered with sand, better traction above the hard packed clay, meant to be safer for rider and ridden. Now, though, it is a different matter. Wet from Saturday’s rain, Sunday’s sudden chill and four days below freezing have formed it into a mass. Each cast of horses’ feet is held hard and sharp, not at all pleasant for walking or falling.
Sometimes, the changes of life turn something once held for comfort into something that feels more like affliction. It is better, then, to hold close those things over which circumstance has no claim. Such things as faith, hope and love.