Monday, February 2, 2015

Tales of the Frozen North

New England is notoriously cold and snowy in winter, but this year in particular the weather is living up to its reputation. We've had two snow days--classes canceled--within six class days. Not every day has been cold and snowy, but many have.

On the first snow day, last Tuesday, all students here were required to stay in their dorms all day. Roads here in Massachusetts were closed, so we couldn't have had class if we'd wanted to. A friend of mine and I felt like our time could be better spent on the farm than in our rooms, though; we ended up getting permission from our parents and the dean of students to help during morning chores while everyone else was in lockdown.

The weather wasn't as bad as it could have been. Nevertheless there was a lot of wind, and most of the snow that fell was blown into drifts. The light was so flat that I had trouble capturing the outdoor scenes on camera. I did try!

A young calf recently born at the farm

Yesterday we had good, albeit cold, weather. I made it to Stoneleigh for my first riding lesson of the semester. I was paired with a horse new to the barn called Thatch. He's either nine or seven years old, according to my instructor, and very athletic. He's strong and energetic, but also fairly responsive. We worked a lot on varying his pace at the trot and canter and encouraging him to drop his head and relax a bit. I didn't do a terrible job, and we got to do some jumping as well as flatwork. He was a lot of fun. His pace and balance were such that I could feel power coming from his hind end rather than his front, something which I'm not talented enough to feel very often. And I'm getting better at encouraging horses to round up a little bit. While I'm unbelievably sore, it was a great lesson!

Thatch, my new favorite lesson horse

Today was the second snow day of these past two weeks. I spent most of it either sleeping or sledding. Both of those activities seem more important than pretty much anything else at this point. Winter is tough.

There are some breaks in the monotony; as well as having done chores in a blizzard and gone riding yesterday, I also placed 10th at a classic-technique Nordic ski race on Saturday-- my best result to date! There are three races left in the ski season--four, counting the NEPSAC race, which I might or might not attend depending on how my coaches feel. I'm excited for championship races, coming up soon, as well as for the end of a very long, cold sports season.

Stay warm!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Application Season

Today is October 26. The word on everyone's tongues--or in the backs of everyone's haunted brains-- is "college." For seniors applying early, this upcoming week will be perhaps the most stressful week of the year. I include myself in the legion of stressed students, because while I have been working on my essays since the summer, I'm still not satisfied with where they are. I will have to be satisfied soon; they're due on Saturday.

Even though I spent this morning and yesterday morning writing for my applications, I'm not burned out. My essays are essentially stories about myself. I journal and write this blog, so clearly I enjoy writing about myself (how narcissistic), but college essays are different. They're more focused; whereas my journal entries aim to record for my future self what I've been up to, a college essay asks me to tell a story that I find important, and then tell the world--in this case, an admissions committee--how the events of the story impact me. I have written many.

I wrote about cleaning stalls.

View from the barn towards the Richard Odman Memorial Manure Shed (right of wheelbarrow)
I wrote about Kate, a horse at the NMH farm who died this summer.

I wrote about The Phantom Stallion series.

My not-so-phantom gelding and I pose for the camera
I wrote about mountains.

Scene at the trailhead of the hike which I wrote about: 5 AM.
Afternoon thunderstorm over Buck Mountain
I wrote about how I convinced my parents to adopt three kittens.

One of the three kittens, Veronica
Except for the last one, which is part of a writing supplement, I'm still not sure which story tells the most about me. I have yet to decide which essay I will end up using. And part of the equation is how well I express what's important about the story I choose.

Despite my indecision,  and even though the deadline has me stressed, I'm confident I'll finish up with time to spare. I have every A block off this week, and my time management skills have grown so solid this year that I'm not really worried about getting my homework done, either. I might even sleep!

Writing this post has cost me half an hour, maybe forty-five minutes. I don't regret using my time this way, as I did need a break from telling an unknown admissions committee about my experiences hiking with an ice ax during a thunderstorm, but it is time for me to get back to work.

Happy birthday, Mommy!

Evening photography by Lake Solitude, featuring my mother.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

October Again

'Tis the season for fall leaves and warmer clothing! Fall is my favorite time of year. Here in Western Mass autumn is particularly beautiful, but even in Austin the cooler days and pumpkin sales that fall brings are more than welcome. (That's not to say that fall has arrived in Austin yet. If I'm to believe the Weather app on my phone, temperatures are still in the 90s.)

Autumn colors were quick to arrive at NMH; since about two weeks ago, trees have been turning various shades of yellow, red, and orange. It's during this transition that I think fall colors are most beautiful. Not many leaves have fallen yet, and many are still green, which means that the bright new colors are juxtaposed against the dark, late-summer shade.

In the past few years at NMH, I've told myself at the start of leaf season that I'd go out and get pictures at some point. Of course, work and all sorts of other preoccupations intervened. As a consequence, I've never been happy with my fall pictures. So lately I've made it a priority to take my camera everywhere! I'm happier with this set than I have been in the past.

Not only have I shot more this fall, but I've also looked through my enormous Lightroom catalog to find lost photos from past autumns. I found two that I like from Family Days last year--at the time, I wrote them off.

Stormy day along a lake on the way up to Mount Washington

A few more recent shots:

Leaves in front of Crossley during the USC Endless Summer Party
Abe, Tim, and Ben
Liam and Tim Tyler prepare to hitch up the farm's new Belgians (donated recently by Tim)
 More to come in the next few weeks.