There are so many things in the world I simply didn't see before I began taking photos, wildflowers being one of them. Today Maria and I and the dogs walked out on the road near the farm after the storms left and for some reason, I saw the wildflowers clearly, they were standing up in the tall grass, they looked mystical and lonely and beautiful. I'll do a photo album on Facebook as well as here on the blog.
Simon in my mind is a junkyard donkey. He is sloppy, sway-backed, his legs stick out at odd angles, he is missing half of his teeth, he has a big belly that hangs down and he is constantly chewing on things. He will eat anything pretty much. And he is the sweetest creature. I love junkyard dogs, I love junkyard donkeys.
My friend Scott Carrino has been afflicted by an animal crisis called Donkey Fever, he doesn't yet know that once it is acquired it is worse than Lyme Disease, there are no antibiotics to cure it, there is only way through it. Scott, the co-owner with his wife Lisa of the Pompanuck Farm Institute and Retreat and the Round House Cafe – the new soul of our small town – is my friend and my Tai Chi instructor. Usually the lessons are at Pomanuck, but Scott came to Bedlam Farm yesterday ostensibly to give me a Tai Chi lesson. I was not fooled, he was on fire to meet the donkeys and spend time with them. We never got to the lesson, he was utterly smitted by Simon, Lulu and Fanny.
The donkeys are no fools, they read human intentions, smell them perhaps, and all three of them sidled over to Scott and exchanged spiritual greetings with him. The three donkeys surrounded Scott and he just about melted. He connected with them. Scott is a nice man, a spiritual man, an animal lover. He told he had donkey dreams all night, he wants to have two, his wife Lisa is the "sensible one," he says (is this familiar to you animal people?). I don't know, he told me today when I visited him at the Round House, we don't have a lot of time to spend with them, he said. He is already figuring out pasture and water issues.
I don't usually push people to get animals, although I have become an advocate for donkeys, they are such wonderful animals and have largely been lost in the great human-companion animal explosion underway, they are big, of course and need some space. They are disappearing from our world, and very few people have even seen one.
So I wouldn't presume to tell Scott what to do, but if he asked me – he sort of has asked me – why he should get a donkey, I would offer him these reasons below. As he reads the blog and is on the Open Group At Bedlam Farm, feel free to add your own reasons. Scott is a listener. He is on the cusp and somewhere, there are two lucky donkeys (you need two, they are herd animals) ready to love him and guard his chickens and flowers.
1. I saw him with the donkeys. An instant connection, he loved them, they loved and trusted him. Donkey are discriminating, they know who loves them and who to love. They love Scott.
3. Scott has a farm, for God's sake, he has acres and meadows that are perfect for donkeys, all he needs is some two-wire electric fencing – once donkeys get a nose shock, they never go near a fence again, you can turn them off.
4. Donkey's are guard animals. They will keep coyotes, fishers, foxes away from the large chicken coop at Pomanuck and if they get sheep again, will protect them.
5. Donkey's are healers. Scott does a lot of mentoring and work with kid, donkeys sense anxiety and ease, they are soothing, they have been around humans for thousands of years, they know us, feel our moods. As they did with Scott, they pull people out of themselves.
6. Donkey's are meditative. Scott has been a Tai Chi instructor for years, donkey's grasp quiet, stillness, slow movement, spiritual work, they often become a part of it, leaning into people, standing calmly with them. I do Tai Chi with the donkeys often, it is a beautiful experience.
7. Scott loves animals, he loves to be with them, talk to them. I don't know Lisa well, but I gather she does too. People who love animals and have farms ought to have some.
8. Donkeys' don't need or want a lot of attention. They are independent and explorative, they love – need- some contact with their humans, but they are not like dogs, they are not need. Once they get their daily dose, they are quiet happy to go off exploring, grazing, staring, contemplating. They don't want to be around us all day, they always keep a part of themselves independent.
8A. Pompanuck is donkey heaven, laws, pastures, woods, gentle hills. Donkeys would thrive there, be delirious, nooks and crannies to explore, lots of green stuff to eat.
9. Scott and Lisa don't know this because they don't have donkeys, but they need them. Both are very busy, very engaged, with the farm, the cafe, the retreat and mentoring work they do, caring for the grounds and woods and buildings. Scott also writes music. Donkeys are grounding, centering. They help us to refresh ourselves, they promote a sense of focus, a peacefulness. They have been so helpful to me, I can hardly explain it, and seeing them with Scott, I see they would do the same for him.
Is this my business? Almost. Scott has asked for my opinion, he is mulling it. I am an advocate for donkeys, they ought not to slip away from human consciousness, as has been happening, they are central to human history and spirituality. Jesus rode a donkey into Jerusalem, Napoleon rode one into the Alps, Queen Victoria rode them to her castles, they are ubiquitous in the Old and New Testaments, in the Kabbalah, in so much of the world' s great art, literature and culture. Cervantes wrote about them, Eeyore the grumpy donkey entertained children and Shrek's "donkey" captures the loyalty and partnership of donkeys' and humans.
So I am creating some energy donkey in Scott's vulnerable consciousness, Lisa's too. I told Scott the donkeys' have a lot of spiritual Mojo, let's see if I have any.
Today's storm came early, in mid-afternoon, Red and the donkeys came out to the pasture with me to see it coming, to welcome it. Our lives seemed filled with weather, lazy summer days are shaped and changed by rain, wind, tornados, storms, fire, water, heat and drought. Weather is our shared experience, the weather used to be the province of quiet government geeks, now it is big business, our phones and computers are beeping us endlessly with alerts, warnings. The weather has turned my farm upside down, where there was no grass there is plenty of grass, a newly opened pasture is not needed where last year it was urgently needed, the rivers, streams and brooks are overflowing, brushogging two weeks ago, necessary again in a few weeks, crops underwater, farmers muttering, flies and mosquitoes swarming in great clouds, everywhere, through screens into doors open for a minute, storms every single day for weeks.
My experience with weather has become personal, the skies have become so beautiful, I watch for the right ones every day. I wait in the pasture for the storms, they come to find me, to hover over me, the animals used to this now, come out to watch with me. I wonder what they feel, what they know, what they sense. They spent most of daylight in the pole barn, under shelter, keeping hooves dry, getting away from the flies, their eyes streaming with tears. This afternoon, I waited with my camera for the daily storm, the Wednesday storm, and it seemed, as always, a beautiful thing, a thing sent with messages for me that I can't yet read. There is beauty in everything, I see, including the Wednesday storm. I think the storm called out to me to pay attention, but I wasn't sure to what, it rushed overhead.