The sun lowers in the sky, the shadows grow longer. The line between sunlight and shade creeps across the donkey meadow. The red oak leaves in the distance glow red. Birds, chipmunks, squirrels dart about after siesta gathering seeds for supper to keep them warm through the night. Jenny and Jack left the hay I put out for them midday to graze on the short grass given a tiny boost by days of sunlight after a good rain. While the meadow has a bit of grass to nibble, I throw them a little bit of hay per day to supplement their diet. They like this fresh hay. The donkeys are grazing in the direction of the watering hole. They find patches of growth they've missed. Last year I gave them more hay than they ate. They would not eat the broom straw that was thick in the hay. Every day the broom straw was left over. I started feeding them hay the days of the rain, under the trees where the rain is not so direct.
I sit here looking out the window at the grazing donkeys, see their constant awareness of the other. It is a loving awareness between them, not fear. They are so equally matched one cannot dominate the other. Jack can take Jenny down, only when she's willing. Throughout her pregnancy she kicks Jack when he gets frisky. Websites I've looked at about donkeys say to keep them apart when the one is pregnant. Like that's going to work. They'd be braying for each other all the time, just for the presence of the other. I like to think Jack knows her condition and respects it, but know better. He is driven by the mind between his back legs such that Jenny has to keep him reminded she's not ready. It frustrates Jack, though he handles his frustration well. He's not one to be belligerent and hateful. He goes about Jenny gently, more for his own safety than consideration of Jenny's condition. I'm guessing she has maybe two more weeks. Their gestation period is a year, though often goes into an extra month.
Jack's most outstanding characteristic is his humility. Before Jenny entered the meadow I was guessing humility might be a donkey characteristic. Jenny popped that assumption. Jenny has a humble nature too, but she has to trust you first and Jenny does not take trust for granted. Jenny has a jealous streak strong as Jack's humility. Jack and I have learned to keep the peace by letting Jenny be first in all things, first with the carrots, first with the hay, first to talk to. She does not like being fondled, so when I want to pet on them, I pet Jack first. Jenny gets jealous watching and wants to be petted too. Jack doesn't care. Jack has a great longing to be first when I take the grain to them, though he defers to Jenny every day. If she sees danger he might get some of the grain first, she snorts, grunts, growls, and Jack backs away squealing to me in agony while he waits for me to pour his portion.
The gloaming has settled over the land now, the last sunlight gone from the trees on the ridge in the distance. The squirrels and birds went home for the night. Cat lies curled in her window seat. I'm half way into a Romanian film, California Dreamin. It is two and a half hours long. I don't have it for a movie that long to sit all the way through. I have no problem cutting a film in half. In childhood, daddy, who had been a WW2 marine hated standing in line after his experience in chow and other lines. When we went to a movie, we went in the middle and sat through the theater emptying and refilling, then previews and cartoon. I learned early to see the second half of a movie first and use the first half to fill in the blanks. I saw the movies from beginning to end by myself. I learned along the way to see movies by myself. I tend to like movies nobody else likes and tend not to like the ones everybody else likes. Last time I went to a movie with somebody, it was Derek Jarman's Richard II. Walking away from the theater, I said, "Good film." The retort: "It was Terrible!" My friends Lucas and Judy are the only people I can watch movies with in full enjoyment.
rhododendron leaves and shadows
photos by tj worthington