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Thursday, February 12, 2015

SNOWBIRDS, DONKEYS AND PABLO NERUDA

snowbird

Odd snowy day. The day began above freezing by a degree or two. I gave the donkeys their morning carrots and what was left of the hay, just enough to get them started. Backed down the hill to the barn, stacked three bales of hay in the trunk and took them to the donkey feeding station. Rolled them down the hill to Jack braying, donkeys at the fence smelling the hay, excited, something to eat, gave Jenny a swatch of it by hand to chew on while I placed the bales and threw some over the fence. Covered the bales with the blue tarp and came to the house. Tiny snowflakes floated on the air telling me it is a good time to have fresh hay ready to go. Snow came down lightly an hour later. Caterpillar came in the house with snow flake speckling her back and tail. Donkey backs turned white. The donkeys went to their den to watch the snow fall. Snow covered the ground lightly, maybe an eighth of an inch. Snowbirds hop about, pick up the morning's seeds, intermingled with a sparrow, a cardinal female, a cardinal male, chickadees, nuthatches, titmice. The sun came out for a short time, enough to melt the snow outside the shadows. Donkeys returned to grazing hay. Sun went away and snowfall resumed, though less than before until it faded to sunlight again. Cloud drifted over the sun again, the donkeys graze, snowbirds hop and peck. I took video camera to the door, stood in the doorway until the birds came back that scattered when I opened the door. I was getting some still pictures of snowbirds scratching and pecking, and decided to pick one bird and make a brief video. The wind chimes rang a moment from a Takemitsu score. I put it on facebook earlier today. 

snowbird

The floor has turned cold again. So nice it was to have a floor that did not freeze my feet for a week. Cold floor is back for at least the next week. Saturday night/Sunday morning, zero is forecast. The wind is flowing from the west today, so I project it will blow from the west Saturday night. The donkey den's opening is to the east, and the house will block the wind from the donkey den a little. They will be cozy sleeping side by side, the wind's turbulence flowing over and around them. It will be one of those annual nights, the coldest night of the year with wind out of the west cutting straight through the house like the wall is made of lattice. The kerosene heater will never stop. I checked the tank earlier in case it might need a delivery today or tomorrow. It has more than enough to make it through this next cold spell. The guys working the trucks will be busy these cold days. I don't want to run out. I'm not worried about the cold night. It's not the first time. I'll keep feet up off the floor as much as possible. Sleep. It's time to take some grain to the donkeys. They will need the nutrition for the cold night. May throw them some more hay, enough to get them started in the morning before I rise. Done. I dressed up for zero and laughed at self going out the door. Glad I did. Thermometer said 23. With wind, it was blustery. Jack gets so excited for the grain, he brays when I step out the door. He knows what time of day it is. Finished with the bray, he squeals and grunts a pitiful groan of desperation. I and Jack already know Jenny is first or we both better look out. I carried the container up the fence to Jenny's place. Jack groaning and squealing beside Jenny until time for the pour; Jack knows to step back or he might be swallowing some teeth. He walked beside me the other side of the fence. His nostrils pulled the scent of the grain like vacuum hoses inhaling the aroma of his favorite treat. 

jack

Jenny finished her grain and moved to the new hay tossed over the fence. Seeing her at the hay, just now, surprised me. Usually, when she finishes her grain first, she runs Jack away from his and finishes it for him. Jenny is not a donkey to predict from one day to the next. She expresses her feelings without inhibition. Jack does not show what he is feeling like Jenny does. They seem like Mike Tyson and Beyonce together. Jenny likes a rough man and Jack likes a fine lady. It took Jack six months to learn how to conquer Jenny. The day he took her down, took her will, she fell in love. It was overnight, from one day to the next. She turned her Alpha status over to him and settled down into a gentle, loving partner. They graze the hay side by side. Jack took a step toward the remains of Jenny's grain. Jenny darted in front of him and went to the grain she'd left unfinished. Now she has gone to the remains of Jack's grain pile. He doesn't care. In summer I give them the grain every three days. Cold winter I give them their grain every day. It keeps them warm at night and gives Jenny some nutrition for her incubating baby. Jenny has stepped over to Jack's mound of hay, pushing Jack out of the way. He went to Jenny's hay. Jenny ran him off from her hay. Jack went to pick up remains of his grain pile. Jack took a walk to the den, perhaps to stand out of the wind for a while, belly full, in the gloaming. Jenny went to their den from nibbling Jack's leftovers. Time to settle in for a cold winter night. I'm over concern for the donkeys on cold nights. Marsha told me the equines that tough it out through winters are healthier. I believe it. I think of donkeys in the Andes.

jenny

Found an article in a Harpers magazine about Chilean poet, Pablo Neruda. It inspired me to go the the shelf and pick up his book, Residence on Earth (Residencia en la tierra), translated by Donald D Walsh, 1973, to experience some Neruda poems again. I've come to a place I like to read one poem at a time. More than one is too much. I read poetry with more comprehension now than the last time I opened a Neruda book. Morning is a good time, donkeys fed, cat and birds fed, coffee made, half hour or an hour before time for morning visit with Carole on the phone. We talk at least an hour each morning. This morning I read a Neruda poem, something like starting the day with a creative visualization, Ode With a Lament, a mountain stream of lush images. An excerpt:

          I have only fingernails to give you,
          or eyelashes, or melted pianos,
          or dreams that come spurting from my heart,
          dusty dreams that run like black horsemen,
          dreams filled with velocities and misfortunes. 

This is the second of seven verses, a sample of his surrealist imagery, dusty dreams that run like black horsemen. Melted pianos, Salvador Dali comes to mind. Neruda's mind was a mountain stream running into a river, into the sea and beyond, of interwoven images boiling up from his subconscious. Also dipping into Robert Bly's selected poems, Stealing Sugar From The Castle. Bly has reached the potential he promised in his early books. His anti-war poem, Teeth-Mother Naked At Last, was powerful then, in the time of the war and the poem's first publication, and it's powerful now. It does not seem to me to have dated one week. Fill in the blank, the American war of the decade on the poor people of the world. I even feel like the poem is more beautiful now, with distance, than it was then in its rawness.  

snowbird

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