"Sometimes the horses shivered and although I knew that was nature’s way of finding warmth, it caused me a nearly intolerable pain. I fed them more hay and shivered along with them." – Stable Relation: A Memoir of One Woman's Spirited Journey Home, by Way of the Barn by Anna Blake
When we relocated from Niagara Falls to Virginia Beach, the main incentive was a great job offer, but a close second was a warmer climate. We were tired of shoveling snow from sometimes as early as November to as late as April. Wikipedia says that Virginia Beach’s average winter temperatures don’t go below freezing. I stress the word “average.” Up until now, we hadn't seen much more than an inch of snow here or there, but then came the Bomb Cyclone that just hit the east coast. We got hit with 10 inches of the white stuff – almost as much in one day as we have in the past 12 years total.
Stable Relation is one of my favorite horse books, and when I first read Anna Blake’s chapter entitled “Die Hard on the Prairie” I literally shivered by the end of it, even though it was summertime. She describes in horrific detail the perils of being the sole caretaker of a barn full of animals in the dead of winter, with a power outage. You know she survives because she lived to tell the tale but as you read through it, it seems like there’s no way to survive such conditions. So today I went back and read it again just to make myself feel better about facing the non-life threatening Virginia Beach cold. I realize I live in between the states that see too much snow and the states that see none. So the former can identify with Anna’s life and death fight against the elements, and the latter can fall on their knees in gratitude they will never face the kind of winter that northerners deal with annually.
Thankfully today wasn’t my chore day, but that amount of snow with temperatures below freezing for a few more days will be waiting for me at the stables tomorrow. I have handled the cold previously so I know the fine line between putting on plenty of layers and being immobile from too many layers. My long johns are waiting for me on the dresser, along with my Under Armor shell to keep some semblance of heat within my inner layer, then I wear a turtleneck tucked in to keep the wind from sweeping down throughout my body, then I add to that my jeans and a hoodie, topping it off with a windbreaker zipped up to my nose, a warm toque and fingerless gloves.
So join me in thinking warm thoughts about all that our horses mean to us and have done for us, as we all bravely face the bitter winds and cold snow and take a hammer to the water buckets with no promise of a ride in the near future. Peachie Girl has already more than earned her water, hay, feed, supplements, carrots and a clean stall complete with shavings. Duty calls.
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