To The Dunes

A few weeks ago I found myself in the dark of our bedroom, wildly awake, my head lifted from the pillow with the clear thought, “Someday, I’ll be 65.”  I don’t know why I suddenly woke up or why that was my waking thought or why I chose the number 65, but I found the realization shocking.  I live in a way that makes me unaware of my age.  I’ve lived for a long time now, 36 years.  With the exception of a mostly dead thyroid gland, my body is healthy, agile, sleek.  My legs keep hammering when I run those long, sweeping distances of mine.  I’m small but I can carry a lot of weight over a great distance, my successful elk hunt this year is proof of this.  I don’t look especially weathered though that will come the longer I live in the high desert and I hope to accept those lines with grace and gratitude.  I have no knee pain.  I have some arthritis in my hands when the weather turns bitterly cold but this is a legacy of silversmithing and I do what I can to protect those little, working bones of mine.  I’m in great shape.  The notion that my body is going to age and eventually betray me is unimaginable, yet I know it will.  It’s the way of life to survive small deaths.  And so we go.

Time passes.  Time has passed.  Time is passing.  It seems like only yesterday I was a little sun bleached blond girl in the caragana stand out in the pasture, playing with romantic looking rusted tin cans and glass bottles I found in the treeline, barn cats by my side and the horses in the distance munching grass — but that was thirty years ago.  In most ways, I’m still that little girl.  It’s funny how many things don’t change in this tornado of constant change.

Yesterday was my birthday and we hauled horses out to Bruneau Dunes to ride for the day.  It might be my favorite birthday I’ve ever had.  The sky was bluebird.  The sun was warm.  What little breeze there was created the perfect blend of weather that whips the cheeks red and chaps the lips.  I live for that kind of weather in Idaho.  The sand and the brush and the wind whittled waves lay in light echoes beneath eight hooves.  We found ourselves feeling homesick for New Mexico which is where we usually spend my birthday, down in the sand country where the scaled quail live.

Yesterday we felt we had found a little pocket of New Mexico here in Idaho and we rejoiced in it.  The dune towered over us, its shadow slowly reaching for evening.  I marveled at the sand polished stones laying like dollars on the ocean edge.  All the gold on gold pinned down by vast blue, the buff of the rabbit brush, Robert on his yellow horse and the white sands shifting and roiling in every direction.  What beauty to behold.  Such beauty was ours.  We rode the dunes alone and in perfect harmony.

We circled back to the truck and trailer and cooked up franks with kraut for late lunch.  The dogs begged, the horses slurped water, the coyotes sang, we laughed when the smoke stung our eyes.  Our drive home was merry, I felt so full of joy and contentment.  Once, I felt such deep envy for people on horses on trails.  It made me want to cry.  I wanted that life so terribly.  I saw those nice folks with their trailers, hauling their stock to beautiful places so they could explore and camp and hunt with their steeds.  Oh, my heart yearned to have that same thing in my life.  To have this horse of mine is the greatest gift.  To haul Resero beyond our usual haunts, to have him in hunting camp this past fall, to be able to take him wherever I go is not just a luxury, it is a magical luxury.  This I know.

When I didn’t think my birthday could be more beautiful, Robert gave me my final gift — a bow.  I have talked for two years about wanting to make the shift from rifle hunting to bow hunting and last night he launched me in the direction of fulfilling another dream of mine.  It’s a gorgeous bow.  He was too good to me.  Now I must learn and master a new skill.

 It’s a good thing I’m only 36.  I have so much to do.

Note:  The palomino in these photos is not our horse, he belongs to our neighbors who have become some of our best friends — we are so lucky to have them living across our hay field from us.  They are too kind to let Robert ride their horses.  Every day I whisper a little prayer of thanks for them.


  1. the onlyhurricanegirl says:

    I’m beyond grateful that you share your magical life with the rest of us, so glad to see you living your full 36 year life. You have a good 30 years yet to share with us, and I’m looking forward to watching that journey! What a birthday, you got it going on girl!!!

  2. Beautiful One, you inspire me to live–really live.

  3. Happy Birthday Jillian! I enjoyed reading this post almost more than many of your others (which says a lot because I’m a fan!)What really touched me was when you said you had so much more life to live. I needed to hear that I think. I’m 39 and feeling so old lately. Worried that my years are shortening and I don’t have much life left. Maybe because I’m trying to go back to college and start a farm simultaneously. Whatever the reason for my feeling older than my years your post gave me a minute to stop and reflect. We are not so far apart in age and if you have so much time left then I must have too. I’m glad you had such a beautiful birthday. You’re an inspiration to me. Thank you

    • Woo! Your plate might be more full than mine between school and farming! You have lotsa time, making the most of it is what puts the hitch in everybody’s giddy-up.

      You know, something I did this past year to try to uplift my adrenals and boost my system so I could sleep deeper and get more out of my days is I QUIT drinking coffee and alcohol. !!! It’s not for everyone and I may or may not live this way forever and I didn’t do it because I think either of those things are evil or wrong. I did it because I wanted to know if life without those things would boost the quality of my life. It did. And it wasn’t hard to quit. 🙂 Something to consider. The more stressed out we get and the more busy we get, the more we depend on those things to energize us and chill us out and they make us chemically wonky which causes so much other wonkiness!

      Anyway, I’m so glad you are here and I’m so glad you enjoyed this post!
      I want to know more about your farm.


      • Well I’m most of the way there. I haven’t drank alcohol in over 3 years. I determined that I’m a better person with out it. I’ve drastically reduced my coffee intake to just a cup or two in the morning and I sometimes mix it with decaf. I think my internal exhaustion comes from the complete switch of having lived a fully nomadic, single life with very little responsibilities to a very full and stationary life that also includes a fiance, full time college, farm, and a 9 year old step son. The absence of the freedom that I was used to weighed on me and I’m trying to reconfigure my mind to know that school isn’t forever, the mountains are still there, just on the weekends for now 🙂
        We have 3 1/2 acres in the gold country foothills of California. The front pasture is two acres I believe. We put in a small orchard of fruit trees and we’re currently finishing the infrastructure on a 60 by 48 garden with a garden shack and greenhouse. Its a labor of love but to be able to walk out and gather vegetables for dinner sounds like a bit of heaven to me and completely worth it. We also have in residence 6 chickens, 4 ducks, 4 cats, and 2 dogs, and there’s plenty of space left over for my future horse and some goats.

    • Also wanted to clarify that I didn’t quit ALL caffeine…I drink green tea.

  4. Chris Moore says:

    Your birthday post hit home with me, I am 67! Even writing that, I am amazed. I never thought I’d make it this far! But I am not my parents 67, I am still active, I still listen to great music (Just got Kesha, listen to the Stones, Dierks Bentley etc). I make it a point to know what is going on in the world and to be open. You won’t be your parents 65 year old either. At 67, my parents were old because they were old in their mind. Enjoyed your post!

  5. maggi fuhriman says:

    I’m just turning 70 and I have lived a life I loved! I was potter. I took up jewelry 10 years ago and only wish I had sooner as I am having trouble with my hands and fingers but with an attitude adjustment I’m happy to do what I can. love following you!

  6. This is beautiful in every way. Happy birthday.

  7. Oh Chris, I so agree with you about not being our parents’ age! And Jillian, happiest birthday to you! You’re still a youngster 😉 as I’ll be 49 in a couple of months! And as an “old,” I’m pleased to say I didn’t take up running until I was 43, I lift more weight now than I did 20 years ago, I’ll be married (and child free) 25 years this spring, and I just learned how to fire an over-under break-action shotgun last summer! An odd assortment of accomplishments to mention to be sure… Kudos to you for always seeking out new adventures and experiences! xo

    • Heather! You’re up too all kinds of no good! Proud of you! You girls are inspiring me and I’m so glad so many of you chose to share your ages and your thoughts on your life on this birthday post of mine. What a perfect time and place to talk about it.

      All my love,

  8. Katherine O'Brien says:

    I feel the same way, I just celebrated my 36 birthday and I find my thoughts drifting to what the next 30 years holds. I am glad I am not the only one! Thank you for sharing!

  9. i’m gonna live forever. i cherish a butterfly scarf a dear friend gave me; i wear it almost daily, and it reminds me that my life is really doggone good and i’m a butterfly, bright and colourful and flitting around without a care [or without many cares] in my world. may it be the same for you. yes, aches and pains come. it’s part of our bodies aging with time. but it’s our souls that matter. our souls, our hearts, our spirit. may you be a butterfly. forever. [someday i’m gonna be 65, too. (~wink.)]

  10. what a beautiful way to spend the day! Even at 33 I often fear that I’m running out of time or not “doing it right.” There’s still so much to do.

  11. What a FULL life you’re living, beautiful! I’m 57 and it kinda freaks me out once in a while that I have less time ahead than behind me and feel rushed to get things done but at the same time paralyzed. Crazy. It’s such a joy and inspiration, always, to see the snippets of your life. Looks like you had an incredible Born Day. Can’t wait to see and hear all about your new bow skills (a dream of mine – gotta get going on that too!). Lots of love your way, sister Verseau! XXO

    • The idea of 36 kinda freaked me out too, for a few weeks…now I’m in my LATE-30s…and I round up to 40. EEEEKKKKKKK!!!!!!!!!!!! I try to not let my mind go down that crazy rabbit hole of time and age. It’s best to just keep moving and trying new things and challenging ourselves. The older I get, the more I believe our ages are just numbers and time is an abstract idea. We’re here, here and now, and it’s as beautiful as we make it!

      I was just telling Robert this the other day:

      When we make bad decisions we wind up with consequences.
      When we make good decisions we wind up with blessings.


  12. Heidi Mireles says:

    Age is purely a number. As we age our awareness becomes more keen, and our care of ourselves increases. I turn 60 this year, and you wouldn’t know it. People are often very surprised. We stay as young as we want to be. I am so glad your birthday turned out to be so VERY SPECIAL.

  13. Happy Birthday Lady of the Wilds!!! Thank you for the endless inspiration and for the book recommendation Two In The North.
    My husband and I are reading it aloud and it is wonderful. Definitely makes us want to pack our things and head north. Your gift to yourself was a gorgeous way to honor your elk. Love from the hills and meadows of Virginia.

  14. I’ll be 65 in August and I’m here to tell you, you’re doing it right! I’m a firm believer that one of the primary keys to happiness is good health. It’s giving you your life and your life is inspiring so many of us out here……
    Happy Birthday!!! I always look forward to your posts.

  15. Happy belated Birthday! This is such a wonderfully beautiful posting… you truly are an Old Soul, a child of nature, a free spirit. You are wise beyond your years. You embrace life so beautifully. May you be blessed by the winds and the stars.

  16. WOW WHAT AWESOME COMMENTS!!! LOVE & the best in all things great & small & in between to you all XOXO

  17. What a beautiful trip you took for your birthday!! I am struggling with getting older (51) for the first time, ever. You are so right, being healthy and strong makes a big difference during the aging process. Also, I am always thrilled to see Penelope make a cameo appearance!

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