Letter From the Editor: Why We Never Eat Dinner Until Way After Dark

Catching up on a trail ride while my husband scouts turkeys. Photo by Kristen Kovatch.

I keep some unusual hours.

It’s not that you’ll necessarily find me crafting stories at 2 in the morning, bathed in the blue glow from the computer screen while the rest of the world sleeps (though that does happen from time to time). It’s the overall pattern of my day: breakfast takes place only after I’ve got the first few stories of the day squared away; lunch is often a slapdash affair tucked between afternoon phone calls around 3 or 4 or sometimes forgotten altogether. And I can’t tell you the last time I ate dinner while the sun was anything brighter than a fading glow to the west.

I love what I do — truly — but the highlight of every day is when I can shut down that computer and hop in the car and head for the barn, even if it’s for nothing more than to feed, check over each of my horses’ health and well-being and bid them all good night. I’m sure many of our readers feel the same.

If there’s daylight enough, I’ll be saddling up, and if I’ve got the luxury of lots of time, as I do most long summer days here, I’ll throw the harness on my draft horses and hitch up for a drive. (If you have a lit arena or an indoor, count your blessings.) When the sun sets slowly, I stretch those barn afternoons and evenings, waiting until the sky is shades of lavender before I say goodnight. That might mean I’m pulling into my garage around 9 PM, but why waste such a precious thing as daylight?

These days, with the sun setting earlier, my riding time is often curtailed; I’ve been turning my horse back out into total darkness for the past week or two, fortunately familiar enough with the unlit track out to the horse pasture to navigate safely in the night. The time on the clock when I’m arriving back home might be earlier than it was two months ago, but it’s still well dark when I kick off my boots by the back door and hang up my hat.

As we all know, horses are a lifestyle — not just a mere hobby. And I’m truly lucky to share my life with a man who respects that truth, encourages my hours spent at the barn and understands completely when we won’t be eating until 9:30 at night (9:00 if it’s his turn to cook and I remember to text him when I’m leaving the barn).

This time of year, however, I might beat him home some nights. This is the time of year when my husband’s passion takes center stage: he is a hunter, providing all of the meat that fills our freezer for the rest of the year. He spends the rest of the year studying maps, researching equipment and new tracking techniques, practicing until his shot is clean, ethical and true. During these months, when he spends more of his free time up in a tree than down on the ground, I’m often the one left to my own devices, planning our time together around when he’ll be out in the woods. We don’t travel much, if at all, in the fall.

And I understand how completely this passion governs his life. It’s not blood lust that drives him, much in the same way I’m not driven in riding to demonstrate my dominance over an animal. In his way, he is working himself into the narrative of the woods, part of the food chain, taking his place in nature, the same way I relate best to the trees and hills and sky and wind when I’m sitting astride my horse. Even on a day he comes home empty-handed, he is fulfilled. On days I cannot ride, I am still completed by simply spending time with my horses.

Our passions may be wildly different pursuits, but we understand how much they’ve become inseparable parts of who we are, recognizing in ourselves and each other that same hunger to find our place in the world. And yes, it’s true that we won’t eat dinner until well after dark, probably for the rest of our lives… but we can’t imagine our lives any other way.

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