Wild Horses – Thundering Hoof Beats

Cloud on Pryor Mountain amid the high mountain meadow lupine in early July by Linda Hanick

The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.  
Mahatma Gandhi

Please join countless others who have worked tirelessly to protect one of our last frontiers, one of our last symbols of freedom.  What our government is doing with taxpayers money in it’s assault against wild horses is cruel, shameful, abhorrent.    Every small action helps.

Thundering Hoof Beats                                              

Sunset on top of Pryor Mountain, Stallion Silhouettes, by Linda Hanick

Thundering hoof beats pound my soul
Manes flying in the wind
I feel your spirit, hear your call
For this senselessness to end.

They come with screaming helicopters
Flying through the sky.
They come with greed and gluttony,
They come to see you die.

Majestic beasts, you once roamed free
And blessed our Mother Earth,
For greed and bulging pockets
They will rob you of new birth.

Captured fathers, murdered mothers,
Whole families interred,
A single foal lies injured,
Starving cries no longer heard.

Roundup at East Douglas, Western Colorado. This is a pen of stallions that were rounded up with helicopters and separated from the families. The big grey stallion was subsequently shot. He was blind in one eye, over 20 years old. Photo by Linda Hanick

Your only crime is freedom,
Your only fault is love,
Your only blemish beauty,
This land built with your sweet blood.

Cries awaken me from slumber
Massive murder, endless loss,
We once called this thing slavery,
Once named it Holocaust.

We saw your brothers vanish,
Buffalo shot down on the plain,
Now here you are, the last frontier,
A noble few remain.

May ghosts of those whose lives were lost
Pound hoof beats on the doors
Of men who say they’re peacemakers,
But are nothing more than whores.

New born baby with his yearling brother who didn't want to play. Pryor Mountain. Photo by Linda Hanick.

They trade you for a burger,
They sell you out for oil,
Silver lines their bulging pockets,
Your blood spills upon free soil.

Every one of us is guilty,
No! Don’t turn your head away!
We let this happen all the time!
We just watch in dismay!

May hoof beats pound our consciousness,
Screaming heard throughout the land,
May all who stand for freedom
Draw a line upon the sand.

Thundering hoof beats pound my soul
Manes flying in the wind
Awake a mighty nation
For this senselessness to end.

To learn more about this tragic situation, visit the websites and view the videos below.  Please, do something, and please share this with all your contacts.

 A very special thank you to Linda Hanick, my dear friend from Estes Park, for her beautiful pictures and for keeping me informed.  

Save America's Wild Horses

The Cloud Foundation

Need to Know: Removing Horses from the Wild

The Vanishing Herds: The Fate of American Mustangs.

Wild Hoof Beats, by Carol Walker

Sandy Elmore, A History of Wild Horses

Pryor Mountain Horses Losing Their Freedom.

Don’t Take My Home, by Pam Nickoles


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Happy Anniversary, My Beloved

Forty-five years ago today I married you, and you’ve  become my soul mate and partner, my best friend, my mentor and lover.   I was only eighteen, you were almost twenty-one.

Taos Columbine, by Paula Todd King

Young and in love, we embarked that day on a series of adventures, a journey whose ending we’ll not know until we get there.  We experienced many blind curves along our pathway, switchbacks, steep inclines  and unanticipated trials, but for each of those we found countless clear horizons, beautiful vistas,  lush sheltered valleys filled with delight, heart opening sunsets and sunrises, celebrations of the ordinary, the little joys that inspire and transcend the mundane.

We measured carefully and mixed ingredients of love in a way that formed a strong but flexible bond, that endured sacrifice,  life’s tests and hardships.   Trust, honesty, openness, presence, selflessness, acceptance, compassion, patience and generosity, we  blended simply with gratitude for life, a spirit of  curiosity, courage to explore unknown paths, the audacity to dream of what we might create while we lived the circumstance of the moment.  In the spiraling dance of our life we’ve held each other close, but not so close as to dampen or smother the other’s creativity or dreams.

Today we celebrate and are grateful for the life we have.                                                                           We have all we’ll ever need, even as we anticipate new journeys on the horizon,
as we continue to seek and  strive to be the best that we can be,
as we feed the flames of passion that warm cold nights                                                                                                    and brighten even the darkest day.

At the Mabel Dodge Luhan House, Taos, NM by Kevin Moul
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Learning more about yoga

Taos Columbine, by Paula Todd King

The Yoga Toolbox, by Jan Durga Ahlund

My book review for The Yoga Toolbox, and interview with its author Jan Durga Ahlund,  just appeared  on The Minerva Institute website. Yoga has come and gone in my life over the years but I’ve never delved deeply enough to get the whole mind, body, spirit connection.

Jan’s book is the first I’ve read that makes the practice of yoga accessible to anyone.  The Yoga Toolbox has given me a bedrock on which to build  my practice and already I have begun to feel the impact.  Her chapters on The Art of Meditation and The Power of Mudras have helped me deepen my daily meditation practice.  And the chapters on loosening and relaxing the upper and lower body have helped me find relief for problems with lower back pain and sciatica.

I also like the fact that the yoga poses illustrated by Jan in the book are simple and non-intimidating.  I’d be willing to suggest this even to someone who had never practiced yoga.

Jan is giving a four-week series through the Minerva Institute called How Yoga Works.   I can assure you, if I lived in Orlando, I’d be signed up for those classes.

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Jordan – Journey’s End

March 25, 1997 to March 30, 2012

Jordan, August 2011

Lay down
Your sweet and weary head
Night is falling
You’ve come to journey’s end
Sleep now
And dream of the ones who came before
They are calling
From across the distant shore
From, “Into the West”

As we sat with Jordan, told him how much we loved him, thanked him for all the joy and color he had added to our lives, the beautiful words to “Into the West,” repeated in my head, and I recalled a memory of him, a happier time.

Annie and Jordan, at Dolphin Dance in Edisto, 2004

We had walked for over an hour on Edisto Beach, around the point then along St. Helena Sound till we were almost to the marina. There were few people on the beach that day there so we let Annie and Jordan off their leads.

Jordan, was still a pup – probably just around a year old. He ran up and down the beach like the energizer bunny. Annie, three years old at the time ran for awhile then stood with us watching him. She’d bark and chase every time the black and white flash streaked by, then she’d look at us, her face laughing. What a silly boy he is.

Finally he settled down and they charged into  the water together. The sound was smooth that day, but I could see the tide had turned as they swam against the outgoing current.
Annie, more sensible and obedient returned when we called her back, but Jordan spotted a flock of birds far out in the water. We called desperately as we watched his chugging tugboat of a swim take him further and further from our reach.

“Annie, go get him,” I said, not knowing how she’d respond, desperate that our Jordan was lost.

Annie charged into the and water glided effortlessly. Ron and I waited, holding our breaths, as she closed the distance and swam straight for Jordan. She gained on the tired puppy easily. We heard her barking just before she reached him, then we saw a brief skirmish in the water. She took him by the scruff of his neck, then she turned and headed back toward shore. After a few strokes she released him, pushing him ahead, barking at him all the way. That’s how I’ll  remember him, a wild and happy puppy running free.

His life was long, filled with adventures, love and hopefully enough happiness to nourish his sweet soul forever. We will always carry him within us, as we have all our beloved pups who’ve gone ahead. We will be comforted as our friend Scott Lutz wrote so beautifully, by the memories your body holds of him … the memories in your hands, the feel of his coat, his wet nose, and soft velvety ears.

Jordan had a long and happy life.  Losing Annie in 2008 was his worst tragedy. He had been healthy until he  slowly began to deteriorate over the last year. He had lost his hearing and no longer sang along when Ron played the harmonica. He no longer noticed the butterflies and birds on the beach, where he used to chase even their shadows. Then he developed Cushing’s Disease.

For years he had slept in our bed with us, always taking his half out of the middle. He’d sleep, his head on one of our pillows, snoring softly through the night. We finally had to move him to the floor. He could no longer handle the heat of such closeness and we feared he’d hurt himself jumping from our high bed in the dark.

In the last year he lost his energy. His walks became a slow meander about the yard where he still enjoyed sniffing to see what nocturnal visitors had trespassed on his territory.

Then he lost his once voracious appetite.  Finally, when he refused to eat we knew he was ready to move on. It was difficult to make the decision to lovingly let him go. We had loved each other fully for such a long time, his life woven into the fabric of our own.

I like to think he’ll be waiting, with the rest of them, on a distant shore.

Annie and Jordan, Jan, 2004

Don’t say: We have come now to the end
White shores are calling
You and I will meet again

And you’ll be here in my arms
Just sleeping.

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Mary Oliver – How has her poetry influenced you?

Tell me, what is it
you plan to do
with your one
wild and precious

The Summer Day, by Mary Oliver

I fell in love with Mary Oliver‘s poetry in 2010 while I was attending a writing workshop in Taos, NM.  A fellow writer loaned me a volume of Mary’s poems because I was  unfamiliar with her work.  I took the book back to m y room and as I read Mary’s words, I felt as though I had just found a long lost friend.

Mary Oliver, beloved poet

Four volumes of her poetry now  sit on my desk and whenever I feel lost or disconnected I reach for one and find encouragement and validation.  Her words challenge me to live fully this one precious life that I’ve been given.

This  morning when I opened email, I found the following post on Clarity Works.  Mary is ill and they are accepting email letters to her.  If you would like to let her know how her work has influenced your life, follow the instructions below.


Note from the ClarityWorks Community:
Mary Oliver is seriously ill. A blog has been created by Julie L. Moore and Julie Brooks Barbour where friends, readers and poets can share how they’ve been influenced or changed by Mary’s work.
Here’s their instructions for participating:
If you would like to take part in this project, please email a post, no longer than 200 words, to:
jbsundries@yahoo.com (or)
Post your note as in-line text; email attachments will not be read. Posts should be written in letter form, beginning with “Dear Mary”
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Poetry and life

Blue Iris in Spring by Chintana Ahlund

Life runs by so quickly and today I’m robbed of yet another precious hour.  I sit, South Carolina sunlight slanting softly through my shutters and wonder where another week has gone.  My faithful companion, Jordan lies at my feet, life slowly trickling from his beloved body, hour by hour, day by day as he awaits long departed old companions.

I sit here on a spiny ridge of life, death tumbling down one side like a rock slide after spring rains, while on the other side new life blossoms fresh and full of promise as morning dew.

I reach for my teacher’s poems and  her New York Jewish accent speaks gently to my Kentucky soul.   Our backgrounds so divergent, our histories opposite as black and white, and yet I feel as though we’ve walked a common path.  We all have mothers, fathers, sisters, lovers; we all face life and death and ask deep questions of who we are and what it’s all about.  We are all connected.

Her words bring tears to my eyes,  they touch my heart and they bid me to pick up my pen and write.  Her words remind me, “don’t throw away this one precious life.”  Don’t let another day slip by uncherished, even though my heart would like to break for what has been and what is yet to come. I think of a fresh new life, of loving parents, of a precious little girl who will bless the world with her wonder.  And I smile.

Poetry provides inspiration for writing.  I picked up Natalie Goldberg‘s, Top of My Lungs this morning and these are some of the writing prompts I discovered in her poems.

When you leave home
Let me take you
I’d like to
Like nothing ever happened
A girl sometimes wonders
Forgotten ones
coffee with milk
when I forget
I remember this place
This morning
A letter from…
I’m trying…
My Grandfather’s….
I want to say….
Into the world…

I will take time to write, whether my heart is breaking or is singing in the sunshine.

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Inspired by Wendell Berry

The Peace of Wild Things,  by Wendell Berry

Heron on the marsh, 2004 by Paula Todd King

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief.  I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light.  For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

When I read inspiring words like those of Wendell Berry, I become a better writer, and in the case of Mr. Berry’s work, a better person. If we want to write well we must read the authors whose words strike us clear to the soul and stay in our hearts forever.

I share with Wendell Berry, a fellow Kentuckian, a love of the land, a reverence for the peace of nature.  When I find myself shattered  by what is happening in this crazy world we live in, I,  like Wendell, go back to nature.  It is in nature that I regain my connection with reality, I discover my own humanity.  When I walk in nature I realize, I have all that I need, I am more than enough.   It is in nature that I find a clear reflection of the self I would like to be.

Take a walk in nature, feel the breeze on your face, sit in the silence of the trees, come to know the vibrations of the earth.  If you watch and listen this short video The Peace of Wild Things  you will understand what I mean.

 If you have not read anything by Wendell Berry, pick up a book of his poetry, a book of his short stories.  His words have the power to renew your soul.


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What do I hear in the silence.

Edisto Sunrise, by Paula King

Pounding waves against the shore.  Wind in the palms.  Tree frogs’ forest symphony.  An owl hooting in the night, red shouldered hawks sharp cry in light.

When I turn off  sounds of humanity, when I silence  technology ‘s roar what do I hear.  Pulsing life all around, a puppy’s sleepy breath, the whirl of life instead of death.

When I sit in silence I hear a splash and feel the ripple on the pond, I hear  the buzz of hummingbirds and bees, the sound of soft butterfly’s wings,  I hear the falling of the leaves, I hear the mist above the trees, I hear memory’s melodies.

Black Swallowtail, by Paula King.

When I sit in silence, I hear the song of Mother Earth,  I feel Her vibrate in my soul,  I hear the sounds of love and life.

When I sit in silence I hear my inner voice, I hear my highest self, I hear my true heart’s desire.

And I am heard.

When I silence the world around me for an hour or a day, I find stillness, I find peace,  I find reality.  What do you hear in the silence?

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Back to Basics

The beginner’s mind is what we must all come back to every time we sit down and write.    Natalie Goldberg, Writing Down the Bones

For weeks now I’ve struggled with my writing.  Each time I sat down to a blank page or a blank computer screen I froze, not knowing what to write, or if I wrote I thought it sounded bland, boring, blah!

I’ve focused all my energy recently on a story that I’m writing and it seems I’ve allocated all my writing time to editing and rewriting for the critique groups I attend.  Each week I want to have something to take, to read, to share.

But I realized the one thing I haven’t done is practice writing, the True Secret of Writing as taught by my mentor, Natalie Goldberg.

So, I’m going back to the beginning, back to basics, back to the practice that woke me up to writing in the first place.  Daily writing practice where I sit and write, a warm-up like a dancer stretching, or a runner taking the easy daily jog.  Writing practice is the simple letting go of any purpose but writing into whatever happens to be festering in my mind.  I start with an open ended prompt, a color, a place I lived,  my father’s smile, my first kiss, or simply I remember.

My hand moves constantly across the page, no editing or stopping, no crossing out, no punctuation; spelling, grammar, margins optional.  Like an archaeologist I sift through the sediment piled up in my mind and search for forgotten gems.

Writing practice becomes not only an exercise to improve my writing, not only a way to jog loose buried memories, but it becomes a practice in and of itself.  It becomes a form of meditation, a way to know and understand myself at a deeper level.

Writing prompt: Starting with I remember, Go – Write for ten minutes.  Keep your hand moving.  No crossing out.  Write like the wind – write like the pounding waves – write your heart out- write like there’s no tomorrow – write like your life depends on it.  Just Write! 


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Remembering Gunner

Pets come into our lives to show us how to live.   They teach us to live fully in the present moment and to cherish this one short precious life that we’ve been given.  They teach us what its like to experience unconditional love.  And when we connect with them deeply, they mirror back to us the best parts of ourselves.

Gunner and Natalie

Bold yet gentle,  beautiful, elegant, noble, bigger than life, brimming with love, happy, playful,  compassionate and accepting: these words fall short in trying to describe Gunner in life.  A Bernese Mountain Dog, Gunner weighed in at around ninety pounds.  But it was his life force, his  joyful energy that filled whatever room he occupied, not just his size.

Looking into Gunner’s large happy face, his expressive, almost human eyes, you felt as though you were connecting, not to a pet but to a spirit filled with ancient wisdom.

Gunner came into my sister Natalie’s life,  a bouncing, joy filled puppy.    It wasn’t training that made him a beloved companion, but something more, a deeper understanding, an intuition he brought with him perhaps from a former life.

Gunner’s devotion to  Natalie helped her through some of the most difficult years of her life.  She’d say, “no matter what was going on, no matter how bad I felt, how long I had left him alone, he was always there, waiting for me, happy to see me, ready to give me his love.”

Gunner with Katherine Heigl

Gunner had a brief moment in the spotlight.  He was in the movie Twenty-Seven Dresses, a cameo appearance.  But Gunner’s ongoing award winning role in life was his ability to impact everyone he met.  No matter where Gunner went, people were drawn to him.  He had a way of bringing happiness into people’s lives.  He helped us all forget at least for a moment, our worries and woes.  He helped us live as he always did, in the present moment.

Gunner, The Celebrity

Gunner made all of us who knew and loved him better people.  He has gone on now to continue his journey through the universe.  He left an enormous paw print on the hearts of all whom he encountered. We grieve his loss deeply but are so grateful for having had him in our lives.   He’ll be remembered and loved – he’ll be a part of us forever.



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