Friday, August 13, 2021

This Precious Life

The Summer Day

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear? 
Who made the grasshopper? 
This grasshopper, I mean— 
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand, 
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down— 
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes. 
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face. 
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away. 
I don't know exactly what a prayer is. 
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down 
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass, 
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields, 
which is what I have been doing all day. 
Tell me, what else should I have done? 
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon? 
Tell me, what is it you plan to do 
with your one wild and precious life?

—Mary Oliver

I have read this poem over and over and over today. It has always been one of my favorites, but in the light of the last couple of years, especially this spring/ summer, it has taken on new, and deeper, meaning.

The hours I've spent touching Epona, rubbing her withers, her back, her butt--delighting in every inch of her soft baby fur, gazing into her doe eyes. I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down. I only now realized that Mary Oliver chose to end that line at how to fall down, rather than continuing it, as she did in other long lines. She could have, but she did not. 

Thank you.

I know how to fall down.

Oh, yes I do. 

Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon? 

The lifespan of a grasshopper is one year. Mary Oliver lived 83 years.  I am 54.  

Epona is 11 weeks old today. It feels like she has been a part of our lives for many years. I think that's because, when you think you might lose something you love, you concentrate so much attention onto that thing it is like a lifetime of attention. 

Tell me, what else should I have done?

As I contemplate what to do with my one, short life, I know that it is bound together in the precious life of Epona. And Tumbleweed. And Cowboy. And all the humans, horses, dogs, cats, birds and butterflies that enter this space.

Such a seemingly small microcosm. And yet in it, there's something of eternity. The way time becomes irrelevant. A day. A minute. A year. They're all the same. 

My plan for the day is love.


  1. A lovely poem and lovely thoughts too. I'm sure you choose love everyday. How could you not when you are surrounded by so many that love you.

    Epona looks like she was loving being loved up by the grandkids.

    1. Yes, I guess it’s my plan for everyday. Lots of love. Epona needs it more than the others, being isolated and so young. I get a lot of help with that. Everyone wants to love on her. We went to dinner with friends last night, and shiloh came over to work with her. She said that Epona was full of energy and running and bucking. In fact, she said Epona almost kicked her head, which scared her husband. I haven’t witnessed anything like that for a long time, but I will take her word for it!

    2. Good to hear Epona was rambunctious while being worked. And by the way you scared the hell out of me with the post title and poem too. I was afraid to read to the end thinking something had gone bad. I wasn’t going to say anything but apparently Shirley thought the same thing.

    3. Uh oh! Did not mean to do that! I’ll remember that in the future and be more careful with my post titles.

  2. I was a bit worried as I started to read this but I'm glad those worries were unfounded!
    Yes life is precious. All that is good comes from Love Himself. It is infinite.

    1. I didn’t mean to scare you. All is well. Despite the heat, it has been another successful day with the herd. Every time I run my hands across little Epona, I say thank you, thank you for this moment with such a sweet and precious soul!

  3. So glad all is well ~ Give Epona a hug. I'll continue to send love, thoughts and prayers 💕

    1. Thank you. ❤️ We are almost out of the latest heat wave and she had her last dose of antibiotics, so I am hoping her little body can grow strong. We are also one week away from the 3 month date where foals are able to process hay and grains better. Yay!

  4. For whatever it is worth, I didn't read into any thought for concern. Until I got to the comments, then reread to see what I missed. For me, it was all about your reflection. Which I love reading. The closing line in the poem you shared is very thought provoking, a good one! I've seen it used a lot for meme's, cards etc. I think about the general topic frequently, what am I going to do with my time here on earth. So much sadness and madness, everywhere...I choose Love, too.

    1. This summer has given me a lot of time to reflect. It has been hot, smoky, and we’re tethered to home with a new puppy and Epona’s care. There are moments when it feels like we’re very isolated, and not accomplishing anything. This poem resonated with me in a new way. What else should I have done? That line sums it up. I’m doing what I have to do in this season, survive, and what’s helping me do it is concentrating on beauty of small moments. Love is in short supply in the world right now, but here at my fingertips at home.


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