Before I go to work, it is just getting light and I have one last glance at the field before I start the walk through the old farmlands and the ravine to Finestrat, to get my car ride into work with other teachers. I look at the overgrown field, the trees. I see the fallen carob beans and I think of the donkeys, as yet unknown, who will be eating them.
When I return from work, often now with a sense of a good day’s teaching done and a well deserved few hours of peace ahead in my farmhouse, I pause again and look at the field. The carob beans are still there on the ground. Uneaten by donkeys. I have not yet bought my donkeys. I have not yet even met my donkeys. They are a mysterious presence somewhere in my head.
I didn’t really know what I was getting into when I set off from Canterbury in July, miserable after the CRB disaster and mentally and physically exhausted. Barbara who lent me her donkey Dallie probably knew what might happen… Those who know donkeys are aware of their magic. Why this strange obsession? I have asked myself the question for several weeks now.
The visit to the donkey sanctuary last weekend has just brought the question into an even sharper focus. I sat there all afternoon, simply relieved to be close to donkeys again. Yes, relieved.told me what a donkey sanctuary really means: a sanctuary for me with donkeys in it. And that is what I now see that I am making here in my own back yard. I was just getting on with it, as if it was the most natural thing in the world, without questioning it. Now I’ve stopped to reflect on what I am doing, and that is the reason.
This morning, after getting up at four o’clock (obsession or what?) and ordering a book from Amazon about selecting and caring for donkeys, I came across The Mystique of Equus Asinus written by Jane Morrison & Michael who describe donkeys as “saintly creatures” and I realised that others had discoved what I have found for myself. Take a look at this video that advertises their book. It is a bit too new age eco warrior in the commentary for my liking (e.g. the phrase ‘eco-poetic field study’ which sails grandly into the muddy watering hole of pretension), but just look at the donkeys. The film captures the saintliness. I want two saints in my field! And I shall look at the field again, in an hour’s time, before setting off to work this Friday morning.