Deep beneath any cliché like that are stories, thousands of them, but some of them happen to you, yourself. When that happens it gives a you a better purchase on the words; they’ll dance better for you because you love them.
And so it was: I spent one college summer in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and we rode our ranch’s horses most afternoons, going on trail rides with the guests during the lull in our gender-given chores. They were cliché horses, too, well ridden, used to following the paths they knew and mostly happy to do so. (Mostly; some things they just wouldn’t tolerate. The wranglers knew the horses well enough, though they couldn’t always know the riders quite as well.)
On our days off, though, we could wander farther afield, and catch up with staff at other ranches. Sometimes people came to Jackson knowing each other rather better than they might have admitted in job interviews, which is how one afternoon I came to be riding a less-hackneyed horse at the foot of the Tetons, along plains above the Snake, with the chef from the ranch that owned the horses, and the sous-chef from mine, who all were there from San Francisco and connected in various ways to my ranch’s chef.
There was a log, and a stream, and then there was the ground. I wasn’t hurt, and the only way forward was what happened next: back on the horse that threw me.
So what’s that picture of a pond doing up there?
Well, like I said the other day , Occom Pond is open. Twelve, Ten, and a couple of friends spent Boxing Day afternoon there, and I did too: back on the ice for the first time since, well, the last time, nearly two years ago. I skated for an hour, so tentative at first and then better, and when I finally fell down, I was skating past the toughest of the pick-up hockey games and stepped out to stop a wandering puck with my skate blade.
Stupid? Maybe. Back? You bet.