Since the weather stayed on the lousy side for pretty much the entire month of March, a lot of people around southern Missouri are at the ready to take advantage of every nice day that comes along.
My wife Wendy and I did just that during last Sunday’s outburst of warm, comfortable weather and spent just about the entire day outside, doing things like cleaning out old, dead growth from the big flower and shrubbery bed, sweeping a winter’s worth of floor build-up out the shop building, and painting a cabinet.
The weather was so nice that Wendy let our donkey Abe out of the pasture and allowed him to hang out in the yard, as is often the case when the time is right. On a side note, ever since we reduced our donkey collection from three to one (after a little networking, Joe Cool and Bernie each found great homes in donkey-friendly Missouri locations), the remaining constituent seems much less prone to escape than when he had a couple of accomplices. Maybe that proves that he was only following someone else’s lead, but whatever the case, Esquire Abraham appears to be content to calmly saunter around sampling succulent greenery in various sections of the property rather than clandestinely devise and carry out elaborate breakout plans like a four-legged Andy Dufresne (of The Shawshank Redemption fame).
The beautiful conditions inspired my wife and I to partake in an outdoor brunch, and we ate in the afternoon sun at our hexagonal picnic table next to the corral. Not long after we sat down to enjoy a meal featuring homegrown scrambled eggs provided by the hen set at our remote Texas County outpost, some apple wood smoked bacon, wheat toast and sliced oranges, we realized we had a guest.
It was 400 pounds of curious donkey come-a-callin’.
Being the overgrown dog he is, Abe walked right up to the table, carefully positioned his big snout near my left side, and seemed to ask (cue dour Eeyore voice), “got anything I might be interested in?”
Being the overgrown kid I am, I couldn’t help but assist him in finding out.
First, I held out a small chunk of eggs. Abe carefully and gently took it with his big donkey lips and it was gone in a hurry. Then I gave him another chunk.
“Eggs,” I said. “How about that.”
Next, I tried a piece of bacon, not sure if he would prove to be that omnivorous. He crunched it right up, and I handed him seconds.
“That’s some good pig, isn’t it boy,” I said.
Then came a piece of toast, and I just knew he was going to munch it down. He did.
Next, I put him to the real test, designed to see just how far he might go – an orange peel.
We were surprised when he chomped it up like it was going out of style, so I handed him another and he ate it up as if it was donkey food (which at the time, it was).
Finally, I tried a piece of uneaten orange, but Abe drew the line there and politely turned his head. Apparently, there’s something very tantalizing to a donkey about the outer cover of a citrus fruit, but something less attractive about the fruit itself.
Conclusion: the donkey is close to omnivorous, but not entirely.
After Abe finished the rest of the pieces of peel and we picked up our plates and walked them back to the house, I looked back and saw him sniffing the table and benches. It was just like a dog making sure there were no crumbs or tidbits in danger of going to waste. Good boy.
A little later, we saw that silly donkey put both front feet up on the little concrete porch at the side entrance to the shop building, acting as if he was about to set foot inside. We had the door propped open all day to let the building air out in the wonderful weather, and Abe’s motivation was clear: to embark on a mission to secure some of the horse treats that he knew were somewhere in there. But he was obviously torn between the potential quest for goodies and tending to his own well-being by not taking on the unknown of entering the structure.
His protective instincts won out and he stepped down. He still got some treats, though, so he probably figured the mission’s goal had been achieved.
A little later yet, Abe’s zeal for exploration took over again, and this time he did step into the same building through the big double doors on its front side. Before I got to him and showed him the exit, he had munched down a couple of bites of hay we have stored in there for snowy days.
Of course, his first official foray indoors earned him a few more bites of dried grass that he enjoyed in a more appropriate spot outdoors.
As the day came to a close and Abe headed back through the gate to rejoin his bigger, horsier pasture mates, I told him not to start expecting similar circumstances on a regular basis. But there’s no doubt he enjoyed his special visit to Davison’s Donkey Diner (a.k.a. Chez Donquez) and somewhere deep inside he’s probably hoping for an encore.
Here’s hoping for an extended run of the same type of fine weather, and I’m sure almost everyone in these parts is on board with that. If not, well, I hear real estate is going cheap in Siberia.
Doug Davison is a writer, photographer and newsroom assistant for the Houston Herald. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.