A heavy wave of clouds rolled onto the pasture as the sun was dropping down toward the timbered side of North Peak.
The clouds swallowed up familiar landmarks and more. As they muffled the normal afternoon sounds of wildlife and wind, even my ears lost their bearings.
My surroundings took on a foreign, ethereal edge. I recognized this plant and that fallen tree stump, but their context was missing.
Not wanting to disturb the quiet, I stepped silently through the nearly empty canvas of thick grey-washed white. Straight lines of dark fence appeared briefly off to the left, but then faded back out as thicker cloud blew over. My feet moved over wet green plants and then a brown dirt trail. I recognize this spot, I thought, I walk here every day.
I clung to the reassurance of that narrow path. I cannot imagine getting lost in such familiar surroundings, and yet, without the comforting sights of hills and ponds, that crazy possibility flickered through my mind. Several minutes passed, and I noticed that the light was slowly fading. It would be dark soon. A low frequency buzz of trepidation hummed through me. Perhaps I should have brought a dog, for company…
The buzz flared, and I stopped moving. I’m alone out here. What if something were to happen? I prepared to retreat back home. And then magic happened.
Some of the cloud must have blown off, allowing a last breathe of fading golden light to watercolor the fog. It floated up a little and a lone figure resolved in front of me. Blossom, standing under the barren branches of an apple tree, burst my loneliness as if it had never been. She was facing away from me when she first materialized, but after a moment, she turned in my direction and walked over. In her ever-friendly and curious manner, she nuzzled my shoulder and camera.
Other horses, great dark comforting shapes, appeared at the golden-grey edges of cloud. I wasn’t alone and had never been alone. They had been there, quietly grazing, all along. Beyond the reach of my vision, they had nonetheless been companions on the cloudy grey meadows. I wasn’t, and never had been, alone.