Kids & Horses and Boats & Floats


After the ‘epic’ amounts of snow up here last season, the locals have been gritchy about this years lack thereof. To placate themselves they remind one another that snow season doesn’t really begin until January, when we call on Ullr, the Norse god of snow, to bless us. But I get ahead of myself.

It began with weeks of blue bird days. Warmish usually(30-40 F), with a few random days of sub-O as penance. Folks who don’t regard the loss in snow quality, think these are the best skiing conditions ever. I thought it would be great weather for our SOS Outreach volunteer day at the Swan Center Ranch.

according to an inscription on a sword from AD 200, this guy was a BA.

It turns out we didn’t need a pagan deity to bring forth the snow; or, if we did, he was pleased with our offering of 20-some-odd kids out at the horse stables. Early that morning it began coming down with intent. By the time we met up, more than an inch had accumulated. So we scuffled giant pictures and words across the canvass of empty elementary school parking lot. Parents were very courteous not to drive across our sprawling displays.

While moms in general are impressive beings, these Colorado Mommas are something to behold. One in particular loaded 6 excited kids and 1 giddy Fidgit into her van and navigated out into the countryside through the snowy onslaught, across dirt roads and over an old wood bridge to the Ranch. I struck up a conversation with the kids about ‘Discipline’, our Core Value of the month. Our first objective was to reclaim it from the realm of punishing parents.

Our day began up at the cabin, where veteran volunteers explained about the various rescue animals who live at the ranch. A horse who survived Katrina, and several others whose tales are much less quaint in the telling. Around 30 alpacas, sheep, and horses (ranging from miniature to large [17 hands]) are supported out there, enveloped in a safe and peaceful landscape, ever further from that which got them here in the first place.

Learning about the workings of gravity. And how to pick straw out of our hair

We divided into teams, tackling such tasks as cleaning brushes, pitching hay, and the ever popular ice chipping. A few hours intothe morning I came upon one of my kids, whole-heartedly shoveling snow with his pitchfork. I pointed out our objective was the hay. He looked at me with watery eyes and confessed to having hay fever but wanted to be helping and so had found the stall of an old old horse and was clearing away the snow in front of it so the old guy could walk more comfortably. “He knows I’m helping him, so he likes me,” the lad explained, standing before the horse who nibbled on the top of his hat.

Another of my boys seemed deeply engaged with one of the alpacas.

“I can understand him, I think,” he elucidated, “see how he uses his ears to communicate?” Never looking away from the animal, he explained these things to me. I felt like I was intruding, and so left them to their conversation.

I continue to be struck by these kids’ insight, interest, and kindness. I was also struck by their snowballs as we made our way back up to the cabin for lunch.

After lunch we enjoyed an all around meet and greet with the various residents of the Ranch and got to learn how to groom them and what kind of work has to go into caring for them on a daily basis. And that, my dear reader, epitomizes Discipline.

By the time we departed the snow had piled on thick but everyone made it home to tell of yet another AWESOME day with SOS.

The next day I took full advantage of the 9 inches of fresh powder, slashing about at Beaver Creek all day, trying to find a balance between the elation and focus involved in staying afloat atop a coat of cloud fluff fallen to earth. I begin to understand ‘powder hounds‘ fixation with the stuff.

That next week the community gave itself over to festivities in honor of Ullr. On Thursday I jumped on board with the Charter Sports Viking clan for the Breckenridge parade. I’ve always admired girls who get to dance in a parade, so I joined their ranks. And had a blast.

Now, if only the whit stuff would fall. In the meantime, subscribe to my blog. Thanks!

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