“A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.” Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own.
I’ve transported Virginia Woolf from the courts and quadrangles and canals of Oxbridge to gum trees and dams and ducklings. She sits on the small wooden bench overlooking the arena, hand shielding her eyes, skirts tucked under her, taking in the Antipodean delights of Lightwood. She sees the room before her. Wooden posts and wire for good measure. She can smell the freedom. She even imagines walking the paddocks herself, on dusk, long sleeves against the mosquitoes. She prefers the closeness of Monk House but she understands why this space might be just the thing.
I push the wheelbarrow over to a shady spot. It’s almost full. I slide the rake under one more shit. Long grass catches between the teeth as I guide it to the barrow. Aoibheann inspects each one, which doesn’t seem right. She just wants to hang out, and by directing proceedings she feels she has a purpose for being there. But then I’m anthropomorphising her, aren’t I? And that’s not right. She doesn’t need a purpose. She’s just being in the moment. She’s just pointing out I should get out of my head and pick up shit and be in the moment with her. She has a point. Virginia will have to wait.
Aoibheann has shown me how to be in the moment more times than I can remember. There was a moment last winter when things changed between me and my pones. As though the honeymoon was over and it was time to test the human. I knew this to be the case when she reared, her two front legs quite busy near my head. I wasn’t asking much: to walk up the laneway into the shed just like we’d been doing dozens of times prior without incident. Why rear now? What was that about? I tried calm on the outside. She snorted at that, cranked up her energy. I wanted to drop the lead rope and pop off home. But I kept going back. And we got smaller and smaller each time with our chats. Turns out I hadn’t been listening. We’d just been doing our own thing, side my side, getting all bothered. I thought there’d been a failure of kindness on my behalf and she’d decided to stop being my friend (anthropo-ing again). But it was how I was asking that she didn’t like, it was learning to check in and see where she was at each time and I realised I needed to slow down, to do things when we were ready to do them, not worry about the outside world. I’m learning it takes a village to raise a pony, and in particular, Amber, the perfect conduit between human and horse.
I write in the mornings. In the afternoon I walk the paddock to my pones.
Rooms can be whatever you need them to be. Whatever brings you back to the breath. Be in the moment. Sit in the solitude, hand shielding your eyes. Smell that freedom.
And wear long sleeves at dusk near the dam.