jenny munching morning hay, ears back
I've been taking camera to the meadow in my shirt pocket during this ten day period of Daily Creative Practice. Every day I look for new ways to photograph a donkey. That's limited, because I can only get them eating. At this moment, I can see Jenny out the window rubbing her neck on the dogwood tree. She's showing me where she likes to be rubbed. Behind the ears and the upper neck is where she allows being touched. She's giving herself some good rubbing. Talking yesterday with Justin, a local guy who understands horses very well, he suggested that Jenny is probably still in grief after her kidnapping and release in a field with a rapist. She had a woman friend before, who loved her. She told me Jenny's characteristics in brief, and it really was Jenny she was talking about. Jenny lived in a big pen with twenty or so miniature goats. One of them was her friend, they were together all the time. I hated taking her away from her goat friend, because I know the four-leggeds have friends and they love their friends. Jenny had a happy life, Queen of the goats. I'd thought of the possibility of Jenny's grief, but didn't study it. I'm working slowly with Jenny with respect for her loss. One day I got down with her, eye to eye, and asked how she felt about living with Jack. She said, He's ok. She likes him, but she doesn't love him. She hasn't had time to love him. I've found in myself a grief lasts about six months. No point trying to shorten the time, because only denial can shorten it. I've found every grief I've gone through has been a great learning experience, fast track. I've learned to embrace grief and allow it to do its work. The grief keeps the spirit of the lost one alive within. Wake up one morning, the grief is gone, then I miss the grief, the last little bit of connection. From then on its just a memory among many.
jenny munching, ears up
Jenny has been with me and Jack about half the time it takes a grief to fade into the memory. I've been respecting it in her without paying much attention to it. I forget her little goat friend. As I read her getting used to Jack and liking me as her friend, I'm also seeing her grief wane. She has whole new circumstances to get used to. Everything in her life changed. Again. Perhaps her need to be the donkey in charge is a way of, as we say, getting a grip. Everything and everybody is new and different. She needs to keep her equilibrium somehow, whatever it takes. If it means you have to keep a teenage jackass off your back, that's what you do. I think of girls in the old world way of living, esp in Asia, where a girl was sold by her parents to the highest bidder. One day she's taken from the only life she knows and is keeping house for a rapist and raising his children, slave to her mother in law. She never sees parents or siblings again. Jenny is in that place now, sold for $200, a slave penned up with a rapist, but praise God, a gentle hearted rapist. Jack is a naturally gentle soul. I feel like it will be another three months before I can know Jenny as she is in herself, after she has her world figured out and becomes comfortable with her donkey companion and her new human. I told Justin about Jenny's jealous behavior earlier in the day and taking the hay away from me. He told me I need to carry a stick, a walking stick, with me into the meadow, so when she acts like that, smack her, she'll cut it out. My entire interior being was screaming in shock at the thought of hitting her, while I kept a straight face. I'm in a culture that does not share my feelings about animals, doesn't believe they have souls, believes killing them is the same as nothing. I don't try to change them. They allow me my way of seeing, because I allow them theirs.
note the line on jenny's back runs down her tail
Justin was concerned that she might knock me down one day and stomp me to death. In my mind, that was so far from the realm of possibility I couldn't even entertain it. All I could say was, Jenny doesn't have it in her. If I went at her with a stick for pushing me like she does another donkey, hell yeah, she'd attack me. I've witnessed her kicking change over the time she's been here. At first it was to connect a mind-numbing blow. By now, she doesn't kick so much as hop up and down in back as a warning. The kicking is all defensive. I give her nothing to be defensive about. Yesterday, when she was in a mood from it being bone-chilling cold all night, probably didn't sleep a wink on account of the cold, hungry, freezing all night, needing something to warm her blood in a hurry, she wanted the hay right now. Not over there, here. I got what she was saying. When she pushes me, I let her. It doesn't hurt. She knows not to knock me down. I'll always remember the eye she gave me yesterday first thing when I stepped through the gate that said, "If you weren't my friend, I'd knock you down." Though we've not bonded yet, like Jack and I have, this moment told me the time is near. Possibly when her grief is over. I don't need to hurry it. I've learned from dogs and cats along the way that they love us way more intensely than we love them. Anyway, they want to if we'll allow it, recognize it. I felt like what she was saying was I want to knock you down, but I won't because I believe you wouldn't knock me down. I believe if I'd had a history of hitting her with a stick she would have knocked me down that moment. Then I'd have to be afraid of her.
and jack's line runs down his tail
The donkeys have taught me that they pay close attention. They read faces, eyes, tone of voice and body language, plus they use telepathy which we have to relearn how to use. I speak to them and look at them lovingly. I move around them lovingly by not flailing my arms about unconsciously. They are wary of unpredictable human arms. It's like our arms are a curious mystery to them. I mostly keep my hands behind my back or occupied holding something when I talk to them eyeball to eyeball. I want my mind focused in my loving feeling for them, in my delight that they are here with me. I tell them both daily I love them and I'm happy they're here living with me. They understand what I'm saying. It relaxes them immediately. I'm recalling when Jack was new, came here from a meadow with cattle, we were nervous of each other for awhile. In the nervous time, he challenged me a couple of times to see how I would react. I would walk into the meadow and he would come walking toward me. At about fifty feet he would recognize my face, start braying and running all out and stop in front of me. One day when he recognized me, I saw a twinkle in his eye that said, "I'm gonna do it." He had a trick in mind. He came galloping at me like setting out on a race, ran right up to my face and stopped with his nose a few inches from my chest, his feet planted firmly in front of mine. He looked at me like to say I'd surprised him. He expected me to jump and I didn't. I was thinking, If he knocks me down, he knocks me down, but I don't believe he will. A couple more times he ran at me like that and did a turn when his feet were inches from my feet, a polo pony turn to his left, laughing like crazy at his trick. I was impressed. I am not going to carry a stick into the meadow. I've learned to love them and let love do the training. I'm seeing it work out in both donkeys, one at a time. It's a truth: love loves love.
jack shows the line that makes the cross on his back