The other day, I was sitting at the picnic table by the corral at our remote Texas County high country outpost, talking with Abe (our big brown donkey) about what a difference various amounts of time can make.
With his usual monotone delivery (somewhere between that of actor Sam Elliott and Winnie the Pooh character Eeyore), he had several comments to offer from the other side of the fence.
“Man what a difference a day makes,” I said. “Yesterday I was freezing my fingers off taking photos at a firefighter training exercise in a snowstorm and today I got the riding mower going for the first time this year and cut some grass while wearing a T-shirt in 75-degree weather.”
“I know,” Abe said. “Yesterday I was rollin’ in mud at the bottom of the pasture and today I was rollin’ in dust at the top.”
“Man, what a difference a week makes,” I said. “Last week I was still trying to get back into the swing of things after being 600 miles south of here for eight days, and this week I’m back at work trying to sort through all the issues and stories as if I was never gone.”
“I know,” Abe said. “Last week I was glad the grass was turnin’ green and this week I’m glad my fur is cloggin’ up your brush.”
“Man, what a difference a month makes,” I said. “A month ago I was trying not to fall down on ground covered with rock-hard snow and ice, and this month I’m trying to find time to turn the soil in the garden and devise a plan for planting.”
“I know,” Abe said. “A month ago I was wonderin’ why you didn’t give a bucket of sweet feed to me and those horses three times a day and now I’m wonderin’ why you don’t give us buckets of sweet feed three times a day.”
“Wait – what?” I said. “Oh, never mind. Man, what a difference a year can make. Who knew we would ever again be paying just over two dollars for a gallon of gas?”
“Yeah,” Abe said. “Who knew it was possible for that big white horse over there to produce even more natural gas?”
“Um, right,” I said. “Big Sur’s getting pretty old and maybe his internal wind turbines are working harder than ever. Anyway, man, what a difference a decade makes. Ten years ago I was living in the North Georgia mountains making a living writing about and taking pictures of school-age athletes, and now I’m sitting in the south-central Missouri Ozarks talking to a donkey.”
“Yeah,” Abe said. “Ten years ago I was, well, I’m not sure I even was yet, and now I’m sittin’ here talking to you.”
“You know it could be worse,” I said.
“I guess,” Abe said. “I could be talkin’ to that dang horse.”
“Right,” I said. “And with his tolerance level of your donkey-ness, that would probably be short conversation.”
Doug Davison is a writer, photographer and newsroom assistant for the Houston Herald. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.