Animals are important. They mirror our lives, touch buried parts of us, and if we are receptive to it, and can open us up to new and profoundly spiritual experience. Rocky has been in my life and viewfinder and imagination for more than and a year, and he speaks to so much of life I'm not sure I can really keep up. He is an Appaloosa, more than 30 years old, and has spent virtually all of his life on this farm and in this pasture. His owner, a farm widow told me last Fall that she and Rocky had entered into a contract to see one another through to the end of life. She was deaf and didn't see well – neither does Rocky – and she knew the end was near. She died recently.
This woman had the practicality of the farmer – she was puzzled by my interest in photographing Rocky – and she told me "he doesn't look like much now, but he was a beaut when he was younger." Rocky hovers in the pasture like a spirit. He has shelter, food and fresh water. He uses his ears like eyes. He drifts back and forth and now, he knows my voice and Maria's and comes unsteadily to see us and get an apple. Rocky speaks to love, and aging, and it is so tempting to see him as needy and piteous and want to bring him home. That is not what I want, and not what is good for him either. He will stay on his farm for now, and there are places for him to go if and when the farm is sold.
Rocky is one of those animal spirits, I think. He comes when he is ready and leaves when he is done. I hope to age as well as he has.