In keeping with her Catholic traditions, my Mother used to refer to November as the Month of the Dead. It was a depressing appelation, one suited to the general weather conditions in those weeks which have always tended toward the gray and the wet. As the sun retreated on its winter hiatus dark thoughts were the order of the day.
In contrast, at The Donkey Sanctuary of Canada Farm, November is anticipated to a degree. As Stephanie stated the other day, “It is the time for a Reset.” After 6 consecutive months of Open Days everyone, donkeys too, is ready for a respite, a time to close in and to recharge.
It is not that we do not enjoy our visitors; rather, their infectious enthusiasm is always enlivening but, over time, somewhat draining. We never seem to appreciate, until November arrives, how intense the months before have been. Although we have only two Open Days per week, May thru October, those periods require the concentrated energy of many, many people who work very hard to make our welcome warm and thoughtful. Between Donkey Talks, the Education Centre, the Longears Boutique, visits with mingling donkeys in the barnyard, and maintenance of public areas, we rely tremendously on the skills of our staff and and volunteers. Their blue or yellow shirts dot the visitor areas and in their quiet way they are always watching carefully, ensuring that the ways of the animals are respected and understood. Whenever a visitor murmurs, “This place is so peaceful and beautiful.” we smilingly agree while at the same time marvelling at the extent of the effort required to create the environment.
So, as a result of all of that, those of us who are working at the Farm this month are moving a little more slowly, following the example of our donkey friends. Due to the grayness and the rain there is often mist in the air, a veil that softens the edges and makes one want to speak more quietly. The other morning, Kayla and Sarah seemed almost to float around as they brought donkeys in and out of the Treatment Area for sessions with the farrier. And the donkeys, too, are visibly more relaxed. After all, ‘quiet’ is their natural state.
While these four weeks are passing, though, at the back of our minds there is the awareness that December approaches. By November’s end, in spite of our appreciation of the rest, we are all anticipating the 4 December Sunday Open Days. Donkeys and Christmas were made for one another and the children who visit sense the magic which is always contagious.
Come December, we invite you to stop by. In the meantime, know that we are enjoying the quiet while preparing for your arrival.
Sandra Pady, Founder