I helped a friend gather cattle the other day, and before I left Darleen threw herself into preparations as if I were planning to ride the length of the Pacific Crest Trail. The land my friend leases (he is Dave Ferry, the proprietor of Horsewright Clothing & Tack, listed among my links) is only about fifteen miles from my house, and it’s a small ranch—something over two thousand acres—but Darleen packed bottles of water and more food than I could possibly eat. She worried at me like a terrier because I was only wearing a vest and not taking a coat. She went over a checklist of things I would need to have with me, wanting to know if I had already packed them in the trailer:
“Perhaps you should take a pad as well. It’s going to be a long day and a lot of riding and you know how steep those mountains are and Snoopy might get back-sore with just the regular blanket…”
“Darleen, I’ve got the sheepskin-lined blanket Snoopy and I both need and want.”
“Which bit? You know Snoopy gets worked up sometimes and…”
The catechism continued.
I know and freely admit Dave likes to work straight through and get everything done before taking a break. And I know and freely admit I tend to need regular infusions—like every eight hours or so—of food and water. And I know and freely admit the weather in these mountains can be dramatically fickle, especially in the spring. And I know and freely admit I am sometimes, occasionally, slightly absentminded about some things (usually chores). And I know and agree absolutely with Darleen that caring for the horses is paramount.
It would be easy—it is easy—to get irritated sometimes with Darleen’s obsessive preparedness for every imaginable and unimaginable contingency and its concomitant implication that her lord and master is incapable of dressing himself without visual aids. I sometimes feel as if I’m going through third grade for the third time. I sometimes have to remind myself I’ve actually taken care of myself—and horses and dogs too—for many a decade, all by myself.
But these are the imbrications of love. As Elie Wiesel once said, “The opposite of love is not hate. It’s indifference.”