White stems of frost mark the whiskers of the horse around his nose where moist breath has frozen to the nearest available condensing point. He nickers as I walk along the snow-crusted grass path to the shed. The water in his trough is frozen solid, temporary casualty of the harsh wind that blew in on Saturday. I get the heavy, thick bucket from the tack room, lift it to the hydrant and pull up on the lever. Water gurgles, then rushes out, hitting the bottom and splashing.
At the sound, Tango moves around from near the gate and sticks his nose over the top of the fence. He begins drinking as soon as I set the bucket over on top of the ice in the trough. He draws it down quickly, stopping with only an inch or so left. As he lifts his head from the bucket, little streams of water run out from his mouth, dripping off the edge of his lips. I start to run another bucket but he moves away, back over to the gate. When his mind is set on grazing, there is little to distract him.
I fasten the halter and rub along his shoulders and back for a moment. I take the short rope then, “You ready for some grass, Buddy?”
Walking at a brisk pace, I lead him over, picking up the holder for the top wire as we walk through the opening. I bend him around in a quick half-turn. I fasten the top wire back in place, unsnap the holder attaching the rope to the halter and give him a final pat. Heading toward the tall grass, he stops at the tree, gives himself a quick scratching on the side of the trunk then trots on toward the west fence. I fasten the lower wires and stand by the fence, taking in the silhouette of trees beyond the creek, black against the soft light between the horizon and a drift of low clouds. The tints of orange and red streak the coming of brighter day. I turn, walk quickly to the house, grateful for the quiet of this morning and shelter against a minus-nine windchill.
When we are granted peace and beauty in the beginning of our day, surely we may always find reason to praise him who brings both wind and sun.