Tuesday, September 3, 2013
It was a glorious morning. The sun was peaking over the horizon, and the earth was saturated from an angry night of driving rain. Heavy dew droplets glistened on the grass, and the trees, still water-logged from the pounding storm, were dripping with moisture.
We saddled up, just the two of us, and headed out for an early morning ride. Alone with the man I love; no kids to watch, no cattle to tend to, no phone service, and no agenda. We headed east across the meadow as the forest awakened, and rode out with fresh horses and nothing but time on our hands.
That sounds like the perfect beginning to a really good day, doesn't it?
Would you believe that we nearly managed to de-rail the whole thing because of our vast differences when it comes to expectations? That's right, we suffered from the age-old stereotypical battle between men and women.
I have come to realize that the very same traits that made me fall madly in love with the man who gave me his last name, are on occasion, the same things that drive me absolutely bonkers.
My vision and expectation for our morning ride: A leisurely stroll through the meadows, riding side by side, having meaningful conversation, discussing the future, stopping to take in the views, and snapping magazine worthy shots of the breath-taking scenery that unfolded around us.
His vision and expectation for our morning ride: To adventurously ride up to the top of the mountain, see what's on the other side, and then conquer the next mountain, all the while remaining utterly and completely silent so as not to scare off any wildlife that we might happen upon.
Our ride got off to a vertical start as we began to switch-back up the mountain, blazing our own path through trees so thick, the sun never shines between them. I quickly began to resent riding behind my husband as branches whipped me in the face and arms repeatedly. I was trying my best to avoid decapitation by pine boughs while simultaneously remaining focused on the steep, rocky terrain. There was a labyrinth of downed logs to ride over and around. At times I felt as though I was riding through a giant game of pick-up-sticks, only the sticks were made of dead timber. After what seemed like an endless ride through Robinhood's Sherwood Forest, we made it to the top. Only there was no breath-taking view; no magazine cover shot or iphone pic to send to friends with the caption, "Wish you were here."
The phrase, "I couldn't see the forest for the trees" took on a whole new meaning.
So we unceremoniously sloughed back down the mountain, carefully choosing our way, concentrating on the obstacles around us, trying to avoid getting an eye poked out by the thick brush. When we reached the base of the mountain, my husband was quite pleased with the whole experience, while I was busy picking sticks and pine needles out of my hair. I may have uttered a few unkind words about the fact that there were no meadows, no scenic photo-ops, and no level ground to stop my horse on so I could drop my reins and take a picture of the deep, dark, woods. My husband wanted an adventure, and he got one, but I nearly ruined it for him by nagging him the whole time.
But the truth is, I craved relaxation and inspiration... not an adrenaline rush. I was desperate to engage in conversation with another grown-up after spending the whole week teaching three little kids. I could care less about whether or not the elk and turkeys could hear us coming. I just needed to chat. "Chatting" may be my husband's least favorite thing to do. He's normally a man of few words, but he obliged me, anyway.
Once he realized that I just wanted to ride through the meadow, he set aside his aspirations for world mountain domination, and we took a different route. We soaked up the sun and the beauty of the countryside as our horses crossed trickling creeks and puddles in the meadows.
We compromised. He got a little adventure, and I got a little relaxation, and we were able to salvage the ride.
Mornings just don't get any prettier, and opportunities to ride without the kids are a rarity. I'm thankful for every minute I get to spend with my husband. Despite our vast differences in expectations, we were able to meet in the middle, and it made all the difference.