Water and Horses

My days so far these last two weeks seem to have a common element to them: water. I recently joined David in taking up stand up paddle boarding, selling my beloved kayak to a good friend who I know will love Pocahontas the Kayak as much as I did. David and I went to a local lake last weekend for my maiden voyage and paddled five miles amongst giant lily pad gardens, along small bluffs and down a creek that connected further downstream to the White River. We saw a bald eagle, countless herons, a family of geese swimming in a perfect line and cows cooling off in the water. I even had a frog play leap frog across my board at one point. The skies were crystal blue and filled with puffy white clouds and all we heard were choruses of insects and the dipping of our paddles. I only managed to get wet twice, once on purpose when I knelt down in the creek to get a shot of David on his board; the second time, my board played a trick on me, getting it's rudder stuck in some shallow weeds and tipping me over. I shrieked and madly scrambled back to topside where I lay on my belly hugging the board, convinced that every snake in the lake was making a bee line for me. Ugh! Arkansas lakes have very slimy bottoms!

And for the record, I named my paddle board, Sacagawea. Apparently, she has a sense of humor.

I've also taken to walking Langley every morning. My knees had developed early arthritis over the years, but I kept on running anyway, taking two Aleve before heading out the door in the mornings. My orthopedist told me a couple years ago that I could continue running, but just to avoid hills. I just looked at him and said, "You do realize we live in the Ozarks, right?" But this summer, nearly 34 years of running has finally taken it's toll and I decided to begin walking my morning miles. It's actually been quite a pleasant transition, an easier one than I thought. Langley loves it, my knees love it and we both come home ready to tackle the day. I think it wasn't as emotional or depressing to quit because I was able to quit on my own terms and not by a doctor telling me that my knees are blown and that I have to quit running. We walk my old running routes and the other day, we hiked the bike trails at Lake Fayetteville, where I decided that next time we go out there, we'll walk on the paved trail, out of sight of the lake below us.

I'm still practicing with my underwater housing for my camera and still having a lot of fun with it. With the hot spell we're in right now, the neighborhood pool has been a perfect place for practicing with it. Meghan and I hit the water recently and spent more time just lolling and floating about than really taking pictures. It was so relaxing and nice. It still amazes me that I can put my camera in a rubber housing, dive under water, take pictures, come home and "undress" my camera and have it still work like it had never been underwater. 

And now comes the bit about the horses. 

I had reached out earlier this summer about volunteering my photography services at a local equine therapy center about twenty minutes south of Fayetteville called "Courage Therapeutic Riding Center". Their tag line is: "Strengthening self, one hoofbeat at a time." I stayed and took pictures for almost two hours, blown away by the therapists working with the young clients mounted on horse back, how gentle the horses were with the children and how much joy and fulfillment was floating about in the air. I'm going to really enjoy volunteering there . . .  it is horses, after all ( and for the full gallery, please click here).