Saturday, March 20, 2010

I Brake for Donkeys

I am partial to donkeys. If my father's people came from County Kerry in Ireland doesn't it follow that they may have owned a donkey to convey peat back to their cottage, and that donkey's name could of been Sally or Seamus? So its in the blood. Thats why I visited the Donkey ranch today in Harmony, just a few miles from our house.

They came up to visit me as I sketched. Donkeys like people. They are kind and sociable and I'm not just making that up. I have a first hand knowledge.The summer I was nine, the donkey ride came to our town and set up in the school playground.
I stood in line, plaid shirt starched , my favorite jeans turned up at the ankle and blue keds tied tight. I hoped for the furry, taffy colored burro with the flicking ears and thats just who I boarded. His name was Tommy. I thought I would take a benign stroll around the playground with the other kids who were riding at a steady gait in a large cirle, but Tommy had other ideas. Get away ones.


As soon as I was situated, bridle in hand, he tore off down the hillside and to the open field, carreening towards the eucalyptus grove. My ponytail streamed behind me as his hoofs pounded over the dry summer grasses. Soon the head handler galloped along beside me and bellowed "Tighten your knees!, Pull his head up!"



I knew riding terms from watching TV westerns, but for a moment I wanted to run off to the woods too. Me and Tommy camping under the canopy of stars, eating beans from an old tin pie plate while coffee percolated on a smouldering oak fire. But the ramrod cut us off and we stopped short. He pushed back his stetson and scratched his head. "Never seen the like" he said. and we turned and plodded back. My legs shook and my rear was sore, but I felt a little bit like Annie Oakley. I made plans to memorize cowboy songs and learn to play the harmonica.


Back at the playground I climbed off and felt sad to leave, but Tommy flicked his ears at me and almost sort of smiled. "What an adventure!" he seemed to say. and it was.



Donkeys can live to be fifty years old. That means my wild and free loving friend could be chewing spring grass in some field today, just like the one in Harmony. Maybe once in a while he even thinks of me. I know I think of him. Love ya, Tommy, wherever you are.

The tattered outlaw of the Earth,
Of ancient, crooked will
Starve, scourge, deride me
I am dumb
I keep my secret still.
from The Donkey by Chesterton



juliewhitmorepottery.etsy.com

33 comments:

lilylovekin said...

What a wonderful memory, I like to think that Tommy is still there eating grass and kicking up his heels waiting for his little Julie to return for another ride!

Librarian said...

I have just come back from a stroll across the fields, where I usually visit a bunch of cats living at a dairy farm and - you've guessed it - two donkeys, several ponies, a big black horse and some sheep at another farm.
The donkeys were as friendly as usual, but only one came up for a little stroke.
Next time I go there, I shall remember and take a picture for you :-)

Diane said...

I've been to Harmony! We tried to get our Australian Cattle Dog interested in chasing cattle there one sunny afternoon, but she was chicken! We have a scary donkey story from last summer involving a donkey and one not-so-lucky pigmy goat, so it's good to have something to balance the good with the bad.

Julie, you are an amazing writer! Your writing just whisks me off to the moment you are describing. I love your posts.

My Farmhouse Kitchen said...

well this put a smile on my face. how cute are these guys....and those fuzzy nuzzles....love these guys...cute story about Tommy too...

i never knew you rode a donkey....

i wish i could have....

happy trails, tommy

xxx
me

Erin @ I Heart New England said...

Aw, what a cute story :)

Donkies are adorable♥

Anonymous said...

Great story- I could see the whole thing happening!
Kathy L

hensteeth said...

Yet again you have transported me to somewhere new and wonderful.
I feel the same about donkeys too.
Oh your work....as sublime as ever.

cabin fever said...

Julie-
Another great blog. You need to write - and illustrate - a book for all of us to enjoy. Add a chapter about Tommy, too.

Every one has a donkey story, it seems. We have a farm close by here in Western Mass. One day the donkeys got out and were running up and down the road (highway, really.)
Mr. Farmer was chasing them in his golf cart. All the cars had pulled over, and as they all ran up and then down I could see the grins on those donkey faces. They were having a great time!!!

Happy donkey Spring to you and your friends at Harmony!

Xoxo Liz

Vintage Fairy Tales Rebecka said...

Dear Julie!
I have a donkey in my collection, I bought him from an antique dealer in the USA!
He looks a bit sad, just like he is missing someone,
I will immediately ask him if his name is Tommy...
Love your writing and your stories!
Love
Becky

Maria said...

We visited some little donkeys yesterday on our hike. They send their regards...

Claire said...

Hi Julie, another lovely memory from your childhood.

It made me think of donkey rides on the beach in the UK, donkeys with straw hats and holes for their ears. I must've seen images in childrens picture books.

Loved Cabin fevers story too, made me laugh.

The Feathered Nest said...

Oh Julie, what a wonderful post and memory!!!! I love it ~ and love that you shared it with us. Your pottery always reflects what you love...and it's always beautiful. hugs and love, Dawn

shabbyscraps said...

Hi Julie!
I friend sent me your way to this post, since I have 2 donkies. I don't really know what it is about them, maybe how smart they are, their undying loyalty or personalities, but I just adore mine and this post put a smile on my face!
xoxo, Tiffany

caramela said...

What fun Julie! Donkeys are really gorgeous animals with a mind of their own...!and quite unpredictable- but of course you know that already!Lovely post- really well written-thank you for this-
Annamaria :)

Julie Whitmore Pottery said...

Thank you for your comments, its so fun to come here and read them, I really appreciate you taking the time.........
xxx
julie

A Time to Dance said...

I love donkeys although I hate that they always look so sad...yours look much happier in the sunshine...the last ones I saw were in the cold cold winter when I went to buy our tree...your story reminds me of when I tried to ride a camel in turkey....thank you for your kind words on my blog...I love the things that you make...

sea-blue-sky & abstracts said...

A lovely tale, Julie and your candle holder is so pretty, as is the little painting - it's so appealing, with the donkey and chicken and everything! Lesley x

Wish on a Whisker said...

Hi Julie~ Enjoyed your donkey post so much! They are such sweet animals. Love your sketches, too! You are an amazing artist! Thanks for sharing your visit. Have a happy week... ~Mandy (I thought of you tonight when I had tea out of my giant tea cup. I LOVE it so much!!)

Barbara said...

Good sketches. How I remember my children haveing their donkey rides on the beach when they were small.

susan jenkins said...

Fun to think our father's people had a Donkey named Sally. Sweet story.
xx sis

Lesley said...

I love your donkey pottery and the stories behind it. Tommy sounds like a bundle of mischief! What great memories, made me smile.

There are some very friendly donkeys that are sometimes out in the field near here. They love to come over and say hello.

Joy said...

Loved your childhood donkey story. And love your pottery. How whimsical, interesting, charming... I'm going to have a look at your store.

Katherine Langford said...

I just have to share this story with you -- my husband works for the health department for the State of Florida and was called to do a siting at a farm. He opened the gate and drove his truck inside and saw, out of the corner of his eye, something brown flash by -- oh no! A donkey had seen her moment and had escaped from the field. Oh he tried and tried to coax and talk and he swore that when he would get near, she would wink and then run a bit further. He tried to call the owner and finally some neighbors came out laughing and said they would watch over the naughty donkey until the owner could come. My husband fretted all afternoon about the runaway and called the owner later that afternoon - he was amazed the donkey hadn't charged at my husband as he said she was a "mean one and had kicked his truck the week earlier." My husband said the donkey looked like she was smiling and was not mean at all - later he told me, animals are mean when they sense you are too! He has had experiences with bulls, horses, hurt doggies that were labeled mean and then would roll over to be petted! He truly has a way with animals, but this one just was going to wink and run! I love donkeys also as they are just little characters. He was glad to hear the Miss Donkey had gone back after being offered a bit of a treat. Your photos, drawings, comments and especially lovely art never cease to make me smile. I take my medication (boo!) out of my lovely clothespin cup each day and it makes me smile!

Julie Whitmore Pottery said...

Loved your story, Katherine. What a nice husband you have.
xx
julie

Nan said...

That was wonderful, wonderful to read, Julie. As you know, I am very fond myself. They are perfect for when you can't ride or can't have a horse, but want a little equine love in your life. Very, very easy keepers. And they truly are sociable. The only caveat which is true of horses, too, is to hold that carrot or apple in a flat hand so they don't accidentally bite. Thanks so much for this. A little question about the candle holder - what happens when the wax drips down? Do you put it in the freezer? Is there another way to get it off? I really love the piece.

jaz@octoberfarm said...

hi thanks for stopping by. i just signed up to follow you! it must be blogspot because i couldn't see most of your pics. i will be back later when it is working!

Anonymous said...

I just loved reading this... It really made me smile.
I met a donkey in Germany when I was 12.
He was kind of mean though.
He likes to get frisky with his bucking and biting.

pammalu said...

Whew! I almost missed Donkey Appreciation Week!
Love the Donkeys!!!
xo!

Tracey Broome said...

Thanks for the comment on my blog today, I was afraid I might start a fuss, but it was not to be helped, I had to speak my mind after boiling for a few days! I love your blog, I have tried making similar pottery, but it never seems to fit me quite right, fits well with you though!

jaz@octoberfarm said...

i love donkeys and i love what you did with your donkey visit! remember to enter my giveaway if haven't already!

Maggie Ann said...

Julie, I love your writings & your pottery...you have a gift for sure. And...your header is a joy to behold. I've enjoyed my visit very much. Wishing you a very happy week!

vicki said...

Julie - I am in love with your blog and all of your creations! In fact - I am now your newest follower! I love the things that you make - you are so artistic in a wonderful and whimsical sort of way. I am thinking I may just have a project for you~~~

Thanks fos sharing your passion for creating with all of us!

vicki

CathWren said...

The donkey reminds me of a book I read last summer called The French Gardener. A sweet little fellow made an appearance in the story, though he was not being treated nicely at all, at least initially.

Animals who garden

Animals who garden
Donkey with green paw