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Winter Is Here: Rowan Coburn-Griffis ’18 at The Riding Centre

Every week starts on a Sunday, according to the calendar that is tacked on my barren wall. The thing about calendars is that they only seem to focus on full moons, Christian holidays, and patriotic milestones. So there is all that white space, and even when we decide to write in the box, it’s to say important things you have to remember and think about. It says, ” Heartworm Meds,” “Dr. Apptmt,” “Mom B-day.”   They don’t say what you do everyday of the week. They don’t say that you carry three part-time jobs. They don’t say that you moved in with two boys and cleaning rotors are a joke.  They don’t say that you spend probably 10 hours of your week driving back and forth from the three different jobs. Calendars are quiet, because if we filled them in with everything we do our hands would cramp and we would have to highlight the numbers in the box corners.

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Pete, a school horse.

My non-calendar life starts in the first box, the Sunday box. I wake, normally groggy, to drag on several layers of clothes that (in theory, courtesy of Ohio weather) will keep me from freezing in the predawn morning. I let the dogs out and feed them and prep my own. I dash upstairs and brush my teeth, trying to avoid the creaky floorboards and failing miserably. I pull on the dogs’ collars and harnesses and attempt to keep my dignity as the two burst out the front door and I almost spill my chai all over the front of my hoodie. We drive the 15 minutes to the Riding Centre, the back windows cracked even though it’s freezing out. Beretta and Marcie spend the first few minutes bouncing around the front yard and I drop my keys and travel mug in the tack room. The dogs have to go in the bathroom while we let the horses out. When freed, they get to wander around the front barn, tied together so that Marcie doesn’t decide to run off. I work with the morning feeder and usually a volunteer. The dogs “help,” but are really there to provide entertainment and cuteness. When we go to the back of the barn, I let the dogs off leash and Marcie gets to sprint around the indoor until she’s ready to drop. We toss the water buckets in huge glinting arcs and I swear to myself I’m going to do more sit ups so that my back won’t split in half. When we’re finally done, we all slowly trudge back to the front of the barn and try not to take a nap in the heated tack room. The dogs and I hop back in the car eventually make it back to the apartment to clean and eventually try to take a nap.

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Beretta thinks work is exhausting.

Monday we repeat the process, only I leave Marcie with Ethan and Beretta and I go an hour earlier to the barn. We spend more time with the horses and I throw hay from the loft, taking care not to fall off the edge as I swing the bales. At the end of our shift, I sit on the bench with Yana and Adrienne, nursing the rest of my chai or smoothie until Dark Star opens in town and I have to start my shift with the books. Beretta and I walk through downtown Yellow Springs and do an odd dance at the front door until we can get through to clock in. I take a stack of books and head to the back, usually saying, “Off to our corner to make no noise and pretend I’m not here.” Beretta curls up next to my chair and I flip on an audiobook and start entering new books for Ebay. I take photos of the books, attempting to steady my hand and sometimes not getting a blurry photo. I enter the book’s information and try to sell it well enough. After a few hours we clock out and head home to do yet another round of cleaning and most likely a co-op assignment.

Tuesdays I get to sleep in. I love sleeping in. However, if I sleep after 8 AM my brain hates me. I only go to Dark Star on Tuesdays and it’s almost like a day off.

Wednesdays are the same as Mondays in the morning and early afternoon, but instead of going back to the apartment, Beretta and I pack up and head two hours up I-75 to home. He hates long car rides, but we get through them. I take all of the laundry up as well. Ah, the life of a college student. Who enjoys parading their underwear in front of strangers when they can just drag it to their parents’ home? But I digress. The gate is usually free of pigs and goats and donkeys at night, so we don’t have to move them out of the way, which certainly helps. I’m usually bowled over by the two cutest pitbulls, Lolly and Cady, when I drag myself, my laundry, and my computer through the front door. Mom and Dad usually follow after them, but thankfully don’t try to knock me down. After I toss all the laundry in the wash, I crash on my tiny twin bed with Beretta and Lolly and occasionally a cat or two.  Getting sleep is interesting, and usually Lolly is the only one who stays in the bed with me, tucked under the blankets, her head propped on the pillow next to me.

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Communing with Kronos is kind of amazing.

Thursdays my alarm goes off at six, and I try to pull myself out from under Lolly, who immediately applies her 70 lb self to my chest. I pull on leggings and a hoodie and grab my homemade gangline, hooking in the pits and the former sled dog and we start running. The first 100 yards it feels like I’m flying because the pits pull so hard. At 8:20, after a shower, I kiss Beretta on the top of the head and trot out the door, driving another hour and a half to Sylvania and the Animal Behavior Center, where I volunteer to learn what I can about animal training and enrichment. Mostly I do enrichment, making toys to keep the animals from going crazy. And sometimes, I commune with the crow. After my shift I go to my grandmother’s in Maumee and help around the house when she lets me. I make dinner and we chat, eventually ending up on the couch with a bowl of chocolate bridge mix. Sadly, I’m the first one to turn in, being the oldest 23 year old I know.

Friday I bid farewell to my grandmother and go back out to Sylvania to make more enrichment toys and work/play with the new blind and deaf puppy who has planted her cute little self in our hearts. Despite all that, I watch the clock and sprint for my car when my shift ends. I drive myself back home, fingers tapping the wheel. When I get home, it’s me that bowls the dogs over, especially Beretta. I have dinner with my family and then it’s back on the road. We get to the apartment late and crash into bed.

Finally, Saturday ends out the week. And once again I work. Beretta and I go to the Riding Centre and then to Dark Star. At the end of my shifts, Beretta and I return home to vacuum and clean up the apartment a little until Ethan gets home and we make food or go to the grocery store.

The calendars are blank, but our lives are filled. Dogs are walked. Groceries are bought. Books taunt us from the bedside table. Netflix screams with the possibility of yet another Office rerun. Jobs take up most of our time. We spend time with our loved ones. School looms in the future. I don’t really know how my classes loop into my current jobs, but I know that I’m ready for the future. I’m ready to work outside and/or with animals. Winter is here, and it’s settling in.

 

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Rowan Coburn-Griffis is currently a student at Antioch College in Yellow Springs Ohio. A former graduate of Hocking Technical College, she now studies Environmental Sciences for her undergraduate. As a student there, she has been on four co-ops, working full time three months out of the school year to gain a knowledge and understanding of various practices.  Before coming to Antioch, Rowan worked for Hocking Hills State Park in the Maintenance Department, and helped on several carry-outs and rescues. She worked through high school for a wildlife rehabilitation center in Toledo, Ohio. Since coming to Antioch, she has worked for a local therapeutic riding nonprofit in Yellow Springs. In the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, she worked with sled dogs, and in Florida she worked as a part time veterinary technician as well as a lab intern for a marine biology laboratory. The final co-op led her to once again return to sled dogs, this time in Minnesota. As a student, Rowan studies to attain her Bachelors Degree in Environmental Sciences. Her goals beyond graduation are to work in the National Parks as a Naturalist, and to become certified as a veterinary technician. Her true dream, however, is to one day open up a pit bull, bully breed, and sled dog rescue and to give those dogs a job: dry-mushing. This way these animals will have a good home and a job to pour their high energies into.

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