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Saturday, August 31, 2013

GETTING TO KNOW A NEW FRIEND


sandy mason and willard gayheart


I skipped the Skeeter & the Skidmarks show. It just happened at the wrong time. I hadn't slept well for a couple nights entertaining visions and thoughts about an art project. Wrote yesterday's entry between 10:30pm and 4:30am, slept til 8:30, up and going. Then a nap. On waking from the nap I was more tired than going into it. An hour and a half til time to leave. In my mind I see: change clothes and drive for an hour. My inner tire went flat. Strolled to the refrigerator and picked up three carrots, two for Donkey Jack, one for me. He has a cow trail between the back fence and the row of rhododendron that shade him and hide him. I can't see him in there unless he is moving. I stepped out into the field and called him, he took his time, walking in slow donkey time, moved along the trail until he came into the open nearest where I stood. He slowly turned, stepped into the meadow in the way cats walk, watching where he put his feet, looked up, saw me waiting for him, ran a short distance and walked the rest of the way to me and extended his nose. Today, he took a little time, because he came from a ways up the meadow to the east. He stepped out from the rhododendron maybe fifty feet away, looked at me, ran maybe ten feet and turned back into the rhododendron to the trail, walking the rest of the way on the trail walking donkey slow. I've been studying that ever since. He knows me as the one who brings him treats once a day.


sandy mason and willard gayheart


I wondered if he checked himself from appearing overzealous for a bite of carrot. That didn't make a lot of sense, but I'm looking into a donkey's mind suspicious about attributing reason to a person without the frontal lobe in the brain, projecting. But how else start looking for understanding? It's a place to start. I do know the four-leggeds are vain about their appearance, leading me to believe they are more aware than I am of speaking with movement, body language. My feeling is that Jack recognized me, felt an urge to hurry, to run, expressing his initial excitement that his daily visitor is here. Then maybe he caught himself  being too obvious. Slow down, Jack tells himself, attempt to be cool, Jacques. Maybe Jack had been snoozing too, and my voice calling his name woke him from a siesta. Possibly his burst of speed was checked by reminding himself this is no emergency, it's not a dog in the meadow to chase away, it's the two-legged with carrots. Walking is how a donkey gets from one place to another. I noticed in its slow journey along the trail that it walks naturally at the same pace a human walks naturally. This may have something to do with why donkeys have been human companions for carrying things, like the bed of a pickup, in the time when humans walked, and in parts of the world where people still walk.


scott freeman and edwin lacy


I noticed when he extended his nose to me, it wasn't to take a carrot, but to touch my hand with his nose. It seemed like the gesture was more to touch my hand than to sniff it. After his nose had touched my hand, then he was ready for the carrot. I'm seeing humility, natural humility. It's automatic in Jack, as automatic as being wary, quick to react. The humility I see in Jack is like the humility I saw in Jr Maxwell. Jack doesn't know it is humility and Jr didn't either. A donkey naturally defers to a human, like, "Go ahead, brother. You first." Possibly it is in their make-up as a herd animal. And as a creature of the herd, maybe, like us, the donkeys are aware of their physical appearance as well as the appearance of their gestures, as we are too. Anthropomorphizing, projecting self onto others, is the word I've been looking for. I read the four-leggeds by my understanding of our human behavior and thinking, not that they are lesser versions of us, but by evolution, that we came through them and we are next for them. At the same time I project by anthropomorphizing, I am aware they are not lesser versions of me. They understand each other through all species of animals by body language. I can scare the shit out of a dog that knows me for its friend just by the way I walk toward it. They are not lesser versions of me, but we have a great deal in common where our minds, learning and understanding, are concerned. They lack reason, but so do we.

 

scott freeman and edwin lacy


I'm seeing that Jack is wanting to know me like I'm wanting to know him. We are becoming acquainted eye-to-eye, the way the four-leggeds get to know each other. I want not to project onto a donkey dog behavior, but can use much I've learned from communicating with dogs. If Jack had been a dog earlier today, he'd have run from the time he saw me. The difference is that seeing me set Jack in motion, just not into full gallop. A dog is a pack animal, a donkey a herd animal. Very different. Pack animals are about hunting and stalking, while herd animals are about grazing and running faster than pack animals when they have to. Perhaps it is natural for a pack animal to run toward its subject of interest and for a herd animal to run from it. I'm wondering if Jack caught himself doing something uncharacteristically African wild ass, something maybe he thought the human expected, then remembered this is not a human that goes to him with expectation. Possibly, in donkey mind he is with me all the time he is walking. Running is response to fear, I imagine, in donkey DNA. In terms of our communication, I feel like walking was his expression of feeling no fear. He was approaching me of his own will, no fear involved. I'm reading it that his hesitation with me is easing, the fear that inspired his hesitation. Perhaps, too, running to me, before, might have had fear in it, anxious, afraid of the human, but he seems friendly so far.


scott freeman, edwin lacy, sandy mason


I'm even wondering if today's consciously slow pace approaching his new human friend in the meadow might be what follows after yesterday's game to see if he could make me jump, running at me full-gallop and stopping less than a foot in front of me, from running to stop in front of my nose. That I did not even flinch or blink an eye told him I trust him not to run over me. He used his fear response, running, to see if he could scare me. He did not intend to hurt me, and now he knows that I know he is not going to hurt me. A few days ago while I was sitting on the ground and he was grazing around me, he turned his backside to me, up close, three different times, keeping an eye on me all the time he's grazing. I was thinking that by now we're friends and he is not going to kick me. But I have a fairly good idea that now that we're friends, it's time to get to know each other. In a way, we're beginning to learn each other's language. Like if the African wild ass speaks Swahili, then Jack will teach me Swahili while I teach him English. If yesterday's comic lunge was also an expression of his fear, I felt like it was the end of his fear, not the total end, but a big part of it settled. He doesn't seem to like me putting my hands on his face, so today I didn't touch his face or make any gesture toward his face with my hands. He seemed a little surprised, and seemed to prefer my hands on his back or neck. He likes for me to stand beside him and bump him, reach my hand over his back and pull him to me like a hug. Today I leaned over his back during the hug. Donkey Jack likes a hug.

I've put up pictures of last year's Skeeter show to illustrate what was going on in my mind, feeling guilty for not going, telling myself I have a right not to go, wanting to be there so badly, looking at driving for an hour, then again for an hour; the thought of it defeated me. I didn't have what it took to hold my head up for the next five hours and pay attention.  


remembering Minnie
 
 
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