Saturday, July 4, 2009

Paddle faster, I hear banjos...

but perhaps, actually, I just hear whinnies, or bleats, or laughter. We're just back from our Arkansas, Missouri, and Kentucky sprawling family trip, centered at Horseshoe Canyon Ranch, but with good stops on the way there and back. No cell phone, limited internet, but horseback riding, farm critters (goats, kittens, dogs, chickens, ducks), wild critters (rattlesnake, 5' black rat snake in the laundry room), shooting skeet, river swimming, canoeing, rock climbing, ziplining, a street fair, plus way too much good food. In other words, durn near heaven, except just hot enough to make you know it can't be *that* place. When a fellow ranch visitor was bent over, grinning, voluntarily getting his back jeans pocket hot-branded with the initials HCR after the final cookout, the laughter was definitely of the earthly sort, and wonderful for it.

There is a lot of magic in a vacation like this, including cousin bonding for Hazel and Thea, the new friendships (we came home with an address list of all our fellow ranch-visitors), and getting out of the routines and burdens of home for a bit, while getting to see a whole host of family under conditions perfect for shared memories but not shared irritations. What we all talked about was how we were all pushing ourselves a bit: I finally climbed with a top rope, shaking with fear more than exertion, and rapelled down, having already watched my daughters and husband and knee-braced mother-in-law face the same rock. The rock I topped was called K-rock (Kindergarden Rock), but no matter. Emily jumped from a 15 foot rock cliff into river water. Brian - well, he's fearless, but even he met a rock or two which he admitted gave him a struggle. A woman who had climbed far higher and farther than me rode her horse in the ring, with terror in her eyes, and faced down a pair of young steers, who retreated into their pen before her. We each faced at least one demon, and won.

This was no Fear Factor, or Survivor, or any other sort of elimination tournament. All events were voluntary, and the cheering crowds of fellow guests and wranglers knew, by week's end, what scared you, and rewarded you with praise proportionate to the fears you'd topped. After all, we're all scared of something. Like the Great Gilly Hopkins, we all faced off our fears, in some fashion, and as it turned out, none of them were silly fears anyway (heights, snakes, and crazy horses are all reasonable thing to respect).
Now if only I could get such a good cheering section to help me over my fear of facing my work emails and the housework here, I'd be all set.

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