When we walked up to the Sanctuary this morning, most all of the equines were out in the fields, roaming around looking for bits of Spring green. After almost six months they are tired of dry hay.
As well, there were a few donkeys standing by the fence in the parking lot and I took the time to scratch some of them right on the top of their heads. While I scratched the first one, others moved in to take a turn. With every one I could feel something like a shiver of delight running through their torsos as he or she stood with head lowered a bit, ears back, totally involved in the pleasure of the moment. They lose themselves in physical sensation so well.
As I scratched the thick, wiry winter hair the observations of the essayist, George Monbiot, came to mind. Writing in the Guardian Weekly recently, he lamented our increasing inability to experience, “immersed [as we are] almost permanently in virtual worlds”. The further we distance ourselves from tactile, physical reality, the greater the probability that, “all [events, crises, happenings] can be reduced to abstractions”. As we disconnect from the real world, so will we become highly vulnerable to manipulation of all kinds.
So there it is. We are on a slippery slope and to stop the free fall we had better step outside. The natural world, the animals around us, we must keep in touch with ‘the other’. That way we will retain our perspective and independence.
In typical March fashion we have experienced a return of winter’s snow here at the Sanctuary Farm. Just recently, during her visit on a chilly afternoon, Kathy Gerry, a DSC volunteer, took this engaging photograph. Kathy is a retired portrait photographer who has taken hundreds of photos of the animals over the years. This portrait is a wonderful example of how her work captures so often the inborn elegance of the donkeys.
I expect that Hutch (3 years) and Jerry (17 years) were standing as still as statues when Kathy aimed her camera in their direction. Clearly, movement in the field had captured their attention. The hair of their coats is fluffed out, too, and to run one’s hands over the surface would be like feeling the bristles of a soft brush. Their coats are very appealing like this, calling out to be touched and admired.
Hutch and Jerry have lived at the Sanctuary for almost a year, now. Their former living condition was sorely neglectful and by the time the DSC was called in to help the donkeys had been abandoned. They were existing on a ramshackle farm along with several other animals including two young mules whom, we were told, had been sired by Jerry. Since the arrival of this group, Hutch and Jerry have settled in well to the Sanctuary’s routine. Both of them are very comfortable members of the larger herd. As is the DSC’s policy, we will care for these donkeys (and the mules, Roan and Coal, too) for the rest of their natural lives. We look forward to many more snowy days when we will see them standing at attention in the snow, concentrating on the details of their winter world.