by Liz Jansen
Earlier this week, I spent much of an afternoon hiking around Peace Valley Ranch with co-owner Natalie Kotyck. Located in an idyllic setting flanked by the Niagara Escarpment, its 1,200 acres of pastures and woodlands undulate down and eastward. The same landscape which offers protection from the ever present westerly wind, provides spectacular vistas for anyone fortunate enough to be there.
It was a picture perfect sunny day, framed by brown fertile earth, lush greenery, blue skies and white clouds. I’d planned to spend only a short time at the ranch to research an motorcycle tourism article, but when Natalie asked if I’d like to accompany her and Molly (the dog) to one of the distant fields to walk back with a horse needed for work the next day, I gladly agreed. “But I’ll have to be fast,” I was quick to add. My afternoon was all planned out.
Before the words were even out of my mouth, I realized my folly. Natalie caught it too and spoke it out loud. Here I was being offered a gift and I was rushing through it. I took a few deep cleansing breaths of that fresh country air to reset my frame of mind, and continued down the path with her.
Trying to cram too much into too little time is a pattern that’s all too familiar to me and one I’m working hard to correct. It’s a lifetime of behavior though, so it’s easy to fall back into that pattern without even noticing it, until someone like Natalie acts as a mirror and reflects back what I already know.
Changing the environment, even if it’s a radical change, doesn’t correct the underlying behavior. You’ve got to go deeper than that to identify why it’s happening in the first place. That came home to me during last year’s 6-week road trip. Granted, it was an exercise in living and working while traveling, so I’ve cut myself some slack to allow for the learning curve. Still, I didn’t have the down time I’d envisioned.
After a 15-minute hike and a wonderful conversation, we arrived at the pasture where more than 20 horses grazed, frolicked, rolled on their back, and generally lived in the moment. A few sauntered over to say hello and check me out while I waited for Natalie to get the one we’d come for, but generally they were indifferent to my presence.
Still musing over the lesson I’d been reminded of earlier, I basked in the beauty of the moment and the energy of the extraordinary place I found myself in. It only took Natalie a minute to place the purple rope loosely around the horse’s neck and lead her reluctantly away from the others. And that horse who was the reason for us being out there, her name was Grace. Of course. The gift of Grace.
Natalie, Molly, Grace and I casually retraced our steps back to the corral adjacent to the homestead. Without knowing it, Grace had done her work for the day and I was the wiser for it. Thank you Grace.