By SHANNON VENEGAS
For domesticated horses, this winter probably doesn’t seem so bad. There isn’t a bug or tick in sight, the horses are double-layered in blankets, and their owners spend extra hours making sure their water stays unfrozen and they have plenty of hay.
For a horse owner, it is a bit different. I guarantee you probably hear more curse words coming out of Wisconsin horse stables this winter than in any other year.
No one dares argue with the fact that Wisconsin has experienced one of its coldest winters in nearly 20 years. But now that spring is near — fingers-crossed — we can take time to reflect without the intense desire to curse Mother Nature along the way.
In years past, I can remember looking at the forecast and seeing those -40 degree wind chills and saying, “But look, it’s only for a day or two, and then back up to 20 degrees.” This year was different. Instead, it was, “Oh, oh, look, after a week of below zero wind chills, we are actually going to hit 5 degrees. Yay! Isn’t that exciting, honey?”
I am crazy enough to own horses in spite of the weather.
Not only that, but my husband works full-time at a horse barn that doubles as our home. We also own a horse care company. What did I do on one of the worst, chilliest mornings we had this winter? I got up at 5:15 a.m.; put on blue jeans over a pair of leggings in an attempt to insulate; layered on several extra shirts; grabbed my Carhartt jacket and dorky hat with the extra-long ears; and hurried into a car that still remained frozen, despite warming up for 20 minutes.
After driving 35 minutes through drifting snow on the winding roads of Dousman, Wis. to get to a barn that is usually only a 20-minute commute, I walk into a barn with frozen pipes and frozen horse crap. Out come the heat lamps and hair dryers. If you could only see the concoction I had to invent to keep the hair dryers pointed at the pipes while I fed the horses.
While this may seem like just a rant on the weather, I am getting to a point.
think God sends us weather like this for a reason — two reasons, actually.
First, he intends to show us that no matter what kind of technology we have, Mother Nature can still slow us down. No matter what kind of fancy phone is invented next, I will still have some clients with unheated barns that require cracking ice out of buckets and unfreezing pipes with hair dryers. And I don’t care how big we make our trucks, driveways made of sheet ice are still going to keep us at home for the day.
The second thing God has intended is just that, keeping us home. Slowing us down. Cold weather and snow storms force us to take a breath and slow the crazy schedules of our lives. Maybe on those days we can’t go run errands or get to work. Maybe it’s a sign we just need to take a day home to breathe, and enjoy the quiet splendor of simplicity.
If you are someone who loves the outdoors, embrace it. A good friend of mine reminded me the other day that if she does not embrace the snow and cold, she will end up pouting on her couch under a blanket. So put on your snow shoes, and go for a walk. Or maybe take your kids for a ride on the sled. If you’d rather not embrace Mother Nature, maybe you do want to crawl under the blanket. But don’t pout. Take a book under the blanket, or cuddle with your significant other. Make a scavenger hunt for your little ones, or take the time to bake cookies.
While spring is right around the corner, we all know Wisconsin could easily toss us another round of freezing weather. Embrace it! Bask in the hidden gift of simplicity!