This morning I went out the door with five carrots to see the donkeys. Both hearing my footsteps in the house went to braying as soon as I crawled out of the bed. Jenny's efforts sound like a dog barking. She's closer to a bray than she ever has been. Jack brays, Jenny barks. I broke the carrots into three pieces each. Jenny always wants a new one before the one she's chewing is done. Jack would rather finish the one he's chewing before he takes the next one. Carrot time over, I unfastened the gate, leaving it closed, turned to pick up an armload of hay and saw Jenny walk by with Jack close behind. I put the hay down and followed them. Hollering at them would only make them nervous and I couldn't do anything with them nervous. They walked all around the house, exploring the zone they see every day. I followed, calling their names to keep them aware I was nearby. I could see they were already spooked from unfamiliar territory, and didn't want to make it worse. I spoke their names to help keep them calm. They walked into the road. The time Jack was out by himself, he would not step onto the road's surface. I turned a little bit nervous with them in the road. I wasn't afraid of a car coming along, but hesitated within wondering what's next. If they decided to follow the road, I was in trouble. I watched them, calling their names, thinking this may take awhile. They walked to where I park the car and left the road toward the gate to the meadow they won't cross the creek to go into. I went to the gate and opened it and they went back to the road. I walked out into the meadow and they followed. Their spirits perked up in the expanse of meadow. I went back to the gate, closed and latched it while they watched. They took off running. They ran and ran from one end to the other and back. This was the meadow Jack lived in before Jenny came into his life. Wondering if he remembered it, I saw him go around to his favorite places in the rhododendron grove. He went to them like he was showing them to Jenny, like he was saying to her, "Here's a good place. Over here is another good place." He took her around to the places he would go to rest and hide in dark shadows.
Jack would take off running, Jenny beside, in front or behind him, galloping, heads up on full alert, the hair of their cropped manes sticking straight up, ears up, running around in a big oval. Jack kicked his back feet in the air a few times. They went to the corners, walked along the fence, explored the meadow together in detail. Jack going to his favorite places first told me he remembered his two months living there. I returned to the house, leaving them to their new territory. How to get them to cross the creek they will not cross was the next question. Thought I'd let them investigate their new space. I went back out later, after they'd calmed down. They were rubbing their necks on a tree's bark. I went into the meadow and walked to a place I thought they might be able to cross the creek easily. I stepped across and they watched. I walked out into the meadow toward the hay I'd put down earlier. They watched. I called to them. They watched. Soon they were bored, turned and walked back to a place they'd found to their liking. I came back to the house and had a nap. Upon waking, I saw them out the window standing among the rhododendron near the place Jack made his first dust circle. I went into the meadow looking for the best place for them to cross easily. The place that looked the best was the worst. Long grass had grown and fell across the creek, looking like a good place to take a step. In other places the creek was narrow, the bank was too steep. Jack stood at the edge of the bank, considered it and backed away. The bank looking from where I stood gave the appearance of a gentle grade. Later I looked at it from where Jack stood and it looks straight down. I found no good place to recommend. They followed me up and down the creek, trying to figure out what I was doing. I told Jack, You're gonna have to figure it out for yourself. I don't know what your problem is, why you can't step across a narrow strip of water. I see it is a problem for you, but I don't know the alternative.
I returned to the house, and the donkeys to the place they like. I checked facebook, read a few articles, one by Noam Chomsky, saw a reliably funny Jon Stewart clip and one by David Pakman. I've grown weary of Pakman feigning surprise over the obvious. Too much like network tv in that regard. Bill Maher has come to bore me with his fundamentalist atheist talk. It appears he and the other tv atheist fundamentalists are going into competition with the so-called Christian fundamentalists, the American taliban. I want to tell him he is setting his sites awfully low. I find none of his criticism of the pope valid. He sounds too much like a pseudo-intellectual in a suit playing hipper-than-thou games with easy targets. His film, Religulous, bored me out of my mind, him talking in a smug tone of voice like a sassy nine year old about subjects he way too obviously knew nothing about. He talked down to everybody he interviewed, some of them I knew on sight had a hell of a lot more on the ball than he did. I'm with him on much of what he thinks, objecting to his disrespect for the people he talks down to like a prosecutor. All I felt his boring talk with the people he interviewed did was show them what an arrogant American looks like up close. His uninformed generalizations about Islam have bored me to the limit. He doesn't make me laugh anymore. Today I skipped over him. I like Louis Black sometimes, but his high blood-pressure rant grows wearisome too. Grew weary of Rachel Maddow's edge-of-her-seat hysteria. The subjects she covers are, indeed, to be hysterical about. But I don't want to go there. Every day something comes forward to be hysterical about. Somehow we stumble our way through everyday life where none of the frantic events of the moment matter at all.
What does it matter that on the far side of the globe a family and guests at a wedding party are blown to stinking chunks of meat, collateral damage from a drone strike? They got him. It matters, but it's not mine. It's theirs. This is what I have to tell myself. It's theirs, not mine. What does it matter when a dozen people get blown up someplace else while I roll a ball back and forth across the floor with a two year old? Those people have kids they rolled a ball with too. How do we live in this world with new Xtreme atrocities every day in our heads? I'm in process of letting go of attention to the falsehoods told on any news station. The news amounts to no more than distraction. The pipeline. I can't stop it. Fracking. I can't stop it. If I were to try to organize a large enough mass of people to make a difference politically, we would be infiltrated by the FBI, set up and arrested on terrorist charges. I like staying at home where the donkeys roam and the clouds crawl over the mountains. I went out an hour before dark to take the donkeys some of the grain they especially like. I did not want to force them across the creek or entice them. I wanted them to cross it with full attention, not distracted by something to eat. I'm in no hurry. They have found a V corner where one fence meets another at an angle. Christmas tree growers made a big pile of dead trees the other side of the fence in the corner. It makes a shelter for the donkeys. Trees overhead, rhododendron and the brush pile make a windbreak for them. If they want to stay on that side of the creek awhile, I'm ok with it. They really don't want to stay. By evening they were restless wanting back to their meadow. I put the grain down for them, walked between them without touching either one. It makes them uneasy to have me, or the other, close while eating, especially sweet grain. Neither one of them showed any reflex. I want them to experience me nearby while they eat, to show them I am not wanting to take it. I don't give it to them to turn around and take it. I don't eat donkey food. Too much fiber. I took it for another measure of the trust between us. I could walk them back the way they went. They would follow me to the gate and walk through. It wouldn't even require carrots. Now I know how to move them from one meadow to the other. If they don't want to cross the creek, they don't want to cross the creek is all I know to make of it.
leaf prints in the road