February has arrived and with it the sunshine has become more intense. Of course, the donkeys are most satisfied with this change. They stand as still as statues, bsking in the warm rays, with coats fluffed up. They can stand for hours like this on a bright, cold winter’s day.
For my part, as seems to happen each year at this time while I am admiring the animals in their bliss, my thoughts turn to the verse poem, PLATERO, by Juan Ramon Jimenez. This enchanting work, written in the early years of the last century, tells the story of the quiet adventures of a Spanish countryman and his little donkey, Platero. Although they live in a much milder climate than ours, the opening lines of the first section always bring to my mind the sight of the donkeys in the February sun.
” Platero is a small donkey, a soft, hairy donkey: so soft to the touch that he might be said to be made of cotton, with no bones. Only the jet mirrors of his eyes are hard like two black crystal scarabs.”
From the beginning, the poet shares his trust and respect for his equine companion. With minimal description he brings us into their world, one that is real for them and yet so very, very far from our own today.
“He is as loving and tender as a child, but strong and sturdy as a rock. When on Sundays I ride him through the lanes in the outskirts of the town, slow-moving countrymen, dressed in their Sunday clean, watch him a while, speculatively: “He is like steel,” they say. Steel, yes. Steel and moon silver at the same time.”
As I lean against the fence at the paddock’s side, the donkeys and Platero are one.
Sandra Pady, Founder