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On the Trail

Thursday, April 12th, 2012

Last Saturday, we went on a trail ride around our new ranch. We saddled up six horses and packed up a picnic lunch. Then we headed out for an adventure.

First we selected a perfect setting for a picnic lunch. We sat in the shade of a tree in a meadow that was once a hay field. The grass is just beginning to grow to the point were it slumps over by the weight of its head. The gentle breeze stirred the grasses into a swaying dance. Butterflies fluttered around, checking out the wildflowers and even landed briefly on Cathey’s arm. We sat overlooking a tree-rimmed duck pond with still water. Picturesque is the only word to describe it.

After eating a light lunch of apple slices, grapes, nuts, and cheese, we each mounted our horse. Isaac and Andrew, our youngest boys, rode in tandem saddles behind my husband and myself. We began our ride through wooded pastures, across mud, through standing water, by a large lake, down creeks, and through pastures painted with tons of wildflowers.

I personally could not get over the latter. Even so close to our home ranch, the new property held different flora than we are familiar with like red honeysuckle, Indian grass, and Texas stars. There were a few more flowers I did not recognize, but will need to consult my Texas wildflower book in order to properly identify them. The open pastures were filled with a mixture of different wildflowers. I have never in my life seen so many wine cups or such big butter cups. It was like walking through a sea of purple and pink.

We also ate our first wild dewberries of the season. Sweet and tart, the juice bursts in your mouth between your teeth. Cathey dismounted her horse, Shania, and began picking them for all of us to eat. We have one horse in particular, Cheyenne, who loves a berry or two for herself.

In addition to the flowers and berries, as we walked through the woods, wild ferns skirted the path filling the empty spaces between the trees along the ground. The bright green foliage was a beautiful contrast against the orange pine needles littering the ground.

Isaac, who rode behind me, asked me, “How does PawPaw know what everything is?” His question was sparked because my dad was a walking flower and plant guide on our ride. He easily identified most of the flora we came across. I explained to Isaac that it comes from being observant and inquisitive and that he too can learn the names of the plants and animals, too.

In fact I began pointing out plants, flowers, and trees and asking him what they were. He surprised himself when he realized that he knew a bunch of the names of the flora already. Names like pine trees, bluebonnets, wild onions, butter cups, etc.

As we finished up our ride, we climbed a high hill to survey the view. The view was breath-taking as your eyes scanned the treeline, the pastures, and the waterways from on top of the hill. You felt like you were on top of the world. My only regret of the day was not bringing along my camera, but the images I saw are forever etched in my memory. What a beautiful day!

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