On the cusp of 2015, I found myself on spacebook arguing with an ex-husband about mustangs when my intended writing had been this one, a gratitude list. Now I get to add that small experience to the list: my own affirmation of my willingness to not only advocate for but fight for the wild horses of our western lands.
On that note, the year has been a big one: joining the board of the Colorado chapter of the National Mustang Association; touring the prison/holding facility at Canon City, where 3,000 wild horses and burros are in holding; adopting a new extremity of my heart, Makanani the mustang, from Canon City; getting to know the mustangs of Spring Creek Basin, TJ Holmes my guide; taking Painter the mustang to his person, Ramon Castro of Greybull, Wyoming; speaking at a RAC meeting in support of the fertility-control vaccine PZP; traveling with friend TJ to watch master horseman Buck Brannaman in Whitefish, Montana. More than once Buck said, “Think about how your horse feels.” I am grateful for him and for TJ and all the horses.
In June my son and daughter-in-law Ken and Kathy Lausten moved to Cachuma Ranch with their daughter, the adorable Lacey Park Lausten. Kathy gave birth to Lucas Allen Lausten on September 12, here in Colorado. My second son Tyler came to Cachuma often during the year. My boys are sunlight to me. Niece Sarah Tobey visited in the fall (and we spent a great day with the mustangs), followed by her mother, Terry Tobey (and another day with wild horses). I am grateful, deeply grateful, for family.
Small writing successes for the year include finalist status for several essays, a couple of kind “almosts,” a short online piece published by River Teeth, and an essay accepted for publication this year (2015). I revised Woman Chasing Water, a memoir of danger and success, and am at work on a manuscript about mustangs. Although these are minor accomplishments, they trump the previous year, during which I let people problems interrupt my writing process and couldn’t find my way out. I am grateful for this year of writing. For the writing life.
2014 marked twenty years since the publication of the first Walking the Twilight anthology, and the ensuing friendships with writers Liz Besmehn and Rebecca Lawton, whose stories I accepted for inclusion in the anthology, and into my heart. Little did I know that their friendship and support in writing and life would survive the next twenty years! This year I went with my good friend Wendy Beth Oliver to a writers’ conference in Oregon, where we met Gary Ferguson and Mary Clare for the first time. Recently I saw Brooke Williams and Terry Tempest Williams for the first time in a long time. Terry said, “Are you back?” Yes, I am back, and I am grateful for good writer friends and enduring friendships.
And then there’s place. Here, southwestern Colorado, the Four Corners, the Colorado Plateau. I am back, and my whole being knows it. I love the Colorado Plateau. I also love Hawai`i, my hānai mother, whom I saw in March along with Jacque and Sharon and other paddling friends. Again I am grateful for friendship, and I am grateful that I found these places of the heart.
Speaking of mothers: I wouldn’t have found Hawai`i without her. Wouldn’t have experienced one minute of this life without her. I am grateful for my mother, Helen Park Bigelow–for her love, her words, her wisdom, and her husbands. Without her, and those two good men, I wouldn’t have made it here.
Okay, yes, I have to mention dogs. I am grateful for all the canines in my life, especially, right now, those three snoring away on their respective beds spread about the room.
Wind blows. Moonlight colors the sky white. I’ll be grateful if there’s snow in the morning.
Hau`oli makahiki hou! Happy new year!