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Monday, March 17, 2014


donkey jack
Today was another winter day, temperature 30 and 31 all day, freezing fog in the night and all day. It makes a beautiful world with a thin coat of white ice on every twig on white background. The pine limbs are hanging toward the ground by this time of day. Fence wire is covered with a thin coat of ice. A thin coat of ice is on the ground, yet the rocks and the road were warm enough from temperature above freezing so long that ice did not form on the roads. Today was the obligatory Monday drive to town. Out of food and needed some prescription refills. The car was covered with about a sixteenth of an inch of ice that adhered to it like paint. I started the motor, turned on the defrosters, closed the door and set at the windows with gloves and scraper. It was like trying to scrape paint off the car. The ice was like it had been sprayed on the glass from an aerosol can. What a job it was, scraping the ice off all the windows. The defroster helped a little bit on the part of the windshield directly over the defrost ports. It is a penetrating cold too. No wind. Out there in the natural world of trees, rocks and ground, it is beautiful and uplifting. On the machine, it's a different matter. I note how the donkeys and the calf take it like it's what's happening today. I think of the remnants of Sitting Bull's tribe living in Montana through the winter and up in Canada. Their teepees made of buffalo hide, several layers, they must have done all right. Though by this time the pickings were slim. They lived closer to the elements than we do. They wore warm clothes, to some degree. In my way of seeing, that's close to the bone. However, people have lived in cold temperature zones for a large number of centuries. People live remotely now in the Yukon, Lapland and Siberia. On days the cold borders unbearable, I tell myself this is Finland and it's a good day. It works. It doesn't fool me into blind belief, but it changes the attitude like the flip of a switch. A don't worry ~ be happy moment.
jack's crystal mane
and jenny's watchful eyes
I served the last two carrots this morning, the other reason a trip to town was essential. I really dreaded it. The fog was thick and the ice froze white on twigs and on the spikes of Jack's mane. Note Jack's ears turned backwards listening to what I'm doing behind him. His head was in motion to the right to get sight of me with his right eye. He'd been watching with his left eye before. I approached him from his left side. The fence is between us. I am leaning over the fence and a little bit over Jack's back, holding that odd little box I stick in his face, trusting he would be still for a shot of his mane, trusting he trusted me not to pull any surprises behind his back. I love about this picture that it tells a degree of trust I am happy with. I don't want to invade their donkeyness and alter it with neurotic humanness. These are African Wild Asses, North African rugged terrain desert herd animals. Not many more than 500 exist in the wild, remotely in Somalia. They won't last much longer. They eat donkeys there and they do poaching, they're in dire African-style poverty that needs another word, poverty doesn't tell it. The original donkeys are beautiful horses, silver with white legs and half dozen thin horizontal stripes. Jack's and Jenny's genetic history left the wild a very long time ago. Their ancestors have been in service to humans in one way or another for some countless generations, until by now donkeys are disposed toward humans like dogs. A lifetime of learning from dogs and cats how the silent ones communicate, and how to get to know somebody who can't talk, has been a good foundation for getting acquainted with donkey people. A donkey's intelligence is extraordinary. I never underrate Jack's or Jenny's intelligence. They both have instantly fast minds and a martial artist's control of their bodies that is automatic because they exist in the flow, the Tao, now.
jenny surveys her domain
 on the foggy mountain
alpha donkey
jenny jealous jack might
get one more chunk of carrot
than jenny gets
jenny's ears half way back
warning jack stay back
ice cream man is her friend
I like to leave the donkeys to their donkeyness with each other. I don't like to train my dogs, nor do I train my cats. I like them to have their own lives unto themselves and conform to my will by their choice. It works out good. They like it like that. I get obedience not even asked for. Before paved roads and coyotes, I had a couple of dogs, one at a time, and like Mr Bojangles, still grieve. For the reasons I don't want a dog now, or an outdoor cat, donkeys live here. They are said to keep coyotes away from cattle. I've not witnessed any confrontations. I'm grateful day and night for this opportunity to become acquainted with two donkeys, female and male. It's kids in the back seat every morning at the fence for carrot time. Jack moves too close to Jenny, or Jack  wants another chunk of carrot at the same time Jenny wants a new one, Jenny darts her nose at him, her ears back. She's gets a sleek look about her. I'm guessing their ears being so big and vulnerable to having one or both bitten severely in a fight would be a grave danger, so they lay the ears back to their neck. Jenny hugs her ears in tight when she lights into Jack with her back legs. Those ears back snug are the sign to look out. The degree of her aggression is measured by her ears. I love the woman Jenny is. She's affectionate and she's sufficient unto herself. She's alpha donkey, she rules, no concerns about elections, the biggest one rules. I know Jenny likes to be first, but for morning carrots, Jack runs to me wailing his sax in a wave of ecstatic trance, eyes glowing joy, ears pinned back, neck and mouth forward like a Marino Marini horse, lips twisted just right to hold his note. I have to give a carrot to Jack first. He's right there and Jenny's behind. She looks on in disapproval softened by acceptance.

jenny says ice cream man
jenny wants another
chunk of carrot pleeze

jenny and jack say
ice cream man ice cream man
don't forget the starving donkeys

jenny says it's so cold
in alaska it's so cold
in alaska

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