Monday, December 15, 2008

December 7, 2008 "Subverting Simplicity"


The question came up in conversation the other day about what I would do if I had lots of money. And for a while, I couldn't come up with anything. Does that mean that I have attained perfect happiness? Maybe. But what it really means is that I live in Vermont. And because I live here, money for travel means nothing, for who would want to leave this place? A fancy car? The only thing you need in a car in Vermont is all-wheel drive. Otherwise, all cars look the same under a thick coat of mud and road salt. Gorgeous clothes? The only requirement is warmth, otherwise the same answer applies as to cars. And so on.


I did eventually come up with something, though. I would fence-in the front field. And why would I do that? Because in that field I would put... a donkey. Not just any donkey, but a Miniature Mediterranean Donkey (MMD). Or rather, two--donkeys are herd animals and are happier with a friend. I want a couple of MMDs because they are tiny (36” or less at the withers), friendly, and adorable.


And because they remind me of Spain. When I was growing up there in the 50s, you could still see them all over the countryside. They were the poor man's horse, eating little and working hard. During the long summer evenings I used to stand in front of my grandparents' farm house and watch the little old women, dressed in black, black kerchiefs on their heads, riding their donkey back to the village. They sat bareback and sideways, as confidently as if he were a kitchen chair, and on his croup they balanced a large basket filled with grass, to feed the rabbits that would in turn feed their families. The women nodded as they passed by, “Bona nit!” The little donkeys quickened their pace at the smell of the approaching village. And I wished that my grandparents were poor, and kept a donkey.

Now I wish I were rich, and could afford one. I can see myself riding it to the village store for the NY Times. I would dress in black, scarf and all. I would save gas...


But my simple life would get more complicated. There would be farrier appointments, a worming schedule, hay to shop for, grain to buy, brushing and grooming to be done, and quality time to be spent, plus training, of course. I can see myself, on a cold, snowy night like tonight, having delivered a hot dish to the hens, trudging across the yard to the shed with a bucket full of steaming water, spreading hay for extra bedding, hading out extra grain, and for my reward, the gratitude in those dark, liquid eyes.

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