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Wednesday, February 4, 2015

OF DONKEYS AND HUMANS



I see Jack through the window resting on the hay he has been eating this morning. He is in a quiet mind meditation, ears up, soaking warm sunlight in air a degree or two below freezing. Just before I wrote this first sentence I thanked God for the donkeys, realizing I actually do treat them and talk to them as gifts from God. Jack is standing up now. The sunlight has warmed him like sitting by the fire. His dinger is hanging down. He's sunning it too. Jenny stepped around behind him to the place she drops her biscuits beside where Jack is standing. Now she's back to grazing her morning hay. I put the hay down for them separately. Jenny is always first. Jack has learned of his lifetime mate that she will be first. It's cool with Jack. After a year and a few months together, he steps aside and lets her have her way. She will anyway, he knows well. Jack stands on his hay grazing. Jenny walked out to the dogwood tree to rub her neck in the tree's fork. It's a good place for them to rub and get out of the sun in summer. I have trepidation they will rub the bark down so far they kill the tree, because it's so handy for them. If it dies, I'll leave it in place for them to rub on as long as the wood holds, several years. A branch of a small maple broke in a wind storm and leaned over to the ground. The branch is still connected to the tree. I don't have a chainsaw now, so I leave it for the donkeys. They are chewing the bark off the branches that hang down to the ground. Along the fence runs a row of multi-flora, an invasive thorny shrub with some of the last flowers in existence to actually have a scent as radiant as a gardenia's. When they're in flower you smell them walking by. A long row of them took up along the fence after the road was paved. The donkeys like them. They start chewing when the first shoots of green begin. By fall, they're chewed clean all the way back to the fence. Jack walked over to be where Jenny was. They both walked back to the hay, both grazing the same spread. It's only at the beginning I have to feed them separately. Bellies full, they graze together.


Several hours later, after a nap, fetching some water and a shower, I look out the window at the full moon rising above the trees. The donkeys are resting in their den. All is quiet in the donkey meadow swallowed up by the dark, the unknown, the place owls know. The woods are alive now with roaming inhabitants. The humans are asleep, the four-leggeds move about freely, graze where they will, do their own hunting, explore, live their family lives teaching their babies to avoid humans. All the wild animals in the forest are not near as dangerous as one human. The windows are black. And out in what I perceive to be black, the four-leggeds live openly like we humans live during the day. The field-camera images I've seen from a short distance into the trees show an active life in the night, deer, fox, coyote, bear. Big cats pass through here, too, though fail to have their pictures taken for lack of interest in apples and corn. The four-leggeds walk about in silence. An image came to mind of a time many years ago walking with a friend through forest the other side of the Parkway, going to see a couple of waterfalls an hour an a half walk in, downhill, and two hours walking out, uphill. Whatever the case or the situation, he's the superior one. I learned to let it flow like Jack lets Jenny be first, she needs it so much and he doesn't need it at all. I like to step on sticks, make them go snap, let the snakes all around know humans are coming through, run for it. I want all the animals in the forest to know I'm out for a walk. They will see me first and move on out of sight. I don't want to walk up on a bobcat stalking a rabbit. Or anything. Friend thinks it's gross of me to step on sticks. I was lectured that he walks in silence like the Indians, not like a stupid white man. I said, I was not blessed to be born Indian this lifetime. I'm not hunting. I'm a white man tourista. I was so tired of his superior mouth I wanted to shut him down. Change the subject. I don't give a shit. I can step between the branches too, but when I'm deep in the forest, I'm not at home, I don't know the rules, don't know any of it. I want snakes to see me and move out of the way before I see them. Anyway, that's my reasoning. My rule number one: do not step on a snake.


Earlier today I was thinking about giving him a call and suggesting lunch one day this week or next. Then thought, Why? Didn't have an answer. It was about three years ago he got on my last nerve and disrespected me the last time. I said to self then, I have control; I have a choice to be around him or not. I choose not to, I live in peace. I know in advance I will kick myself in the ass all the way home telling self, You knew better. What does it take for you to get it? I stop self in advance. I know the rules: keep quiet, he talks. I speak past a few phrases, I am interrupted and he takes off on something more important. I saw him a moment last summer, a reminder that I really don't give a shit. For example, he believes mountain people are ignorant. They're not as politically astute as he, have different opinions from his; therefore, they're not worth knowing. He's of the PC mind, you agree with him or you're out. I'm out. And intend to stay out. Don't care about being nice anymore. I'd so much rather Vada show me her new toys. I'd rather listen to Marsha talk about horses. I find women much more enjoyable to know than men, I've learned in my adult life to see women are so much more intelligent than men it can't be measured. The women know it. The men are too preoccupied with their dicks to notice much of anything else. Brings to mind another man I know. He wears me out with is concern about my dick. Every time I see him, Gettin any pussy lately? Every time, I decide next time I'm going to call him on his interest in my dick, though never do, like it's none of his business. I'm not asking about his. He has three subjects, pussy, liquor and niggers. And he's older than me. Most other men I know have three subjects, pussy, beer and guns. I'd rather listen to somebody talk about a new hunting rifle he bought with a certain kind of scope, how far it will shoot and whatever else, than hear somebody go on about wanting other people to think like him. I want to say something like I've learned to allow others themselves, and consequently live in peace. But it sounds too much like playing the superior game, one upmanship, when I don't want to play any game. Can't we just talk? Does it always have to be a psychological test of superiority?


The human mind is so complex, it's refreshing to be around the animals missing the forebrain. The donkeys don't worry about calendars, schedules, time, value, They do, however, take exception to disrespect. I don't ever disrespect the donkeys and they don't disrespect me. I like knowing that a donkey can kill me easily inside five seconds if it takes a notion. They can also be my dearest friends and protectors. It's all in how I treat them. I treat them as my friends, they treat me as friend. Sometimes walking hay out into the meadow, Jack will walk beside me and push me sideways, pushing me off the trail I'm walking. A few days ago he pushed me and kept on until I had to walk around him. Jack laughed. He has taken to liking me to rub my chin hair on his nose. It tickles him, He curls his upper lip like he does after sniffing one of Jenny's fresh steaming biscuits. My chin hair fascinates both donkeys. Both have taken hold of it with their lips to get a sense for what it is. The human has hair on his face too. Jack has become comic at grain time in the afternoon. Jack loves the grain so much he squeals and groans. Jenny will have it first, though Jack wants it so much he goes for it anyway. Jenny grunts at him, pushing him away from it with her nose. Jack grunts and whines, backs away from Jenny. I walk along the other side of the fence saying, C'mon Jack, and he follows with his nose at the fence smelling the container I carry the grain in. I put it down for him and he's eating before it's finished pouring. He doesn't care. I don't even think about carrying the grain container out into the meadow for them. They'd be tussling at each other with me in the middle as soon as I stepped inside the gate. I give it to them over the fence. They get so excited, both want to be first, and both want it now, they lose sense that I am not as stout as they are. And eight donkey hooves stomping around my feet is not a secure feeling. It's not that they scare me. I get out of their way fast as I can go. I know they don't want to hurt me. The worst that could happen would be to get knocked down. That wouldn't hurt anything. They'd stop their antics seeing me on the ground. They'd both look away repentant. I'd laugh and say that was a good donkey trick.

photos by tj worthington



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