Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Saturdays with Pedro

One cool Saturday afternoon, I observed my son, Alex, playing with his friend, Pedro, a miniature donkey. It is winter and the sun is not out. The tall field grass is swaying in the chilly wind.

Alex lopes across the yard to the edge of our neighbor's pasture. A lone miniature donkey, Pedro, lives in the pasture with 10 goats. Pedro spies Alex approaching the fence and quickly trots to meet him.

Alex reaches through the fence and rubs Pedro's fuzzy nose. Alex then reaches into his black coat pocket and pulls out a plastic baggie filled with baby carrots. Pedro reaches across the fence to get closer to Alex and the carrots. Alex's small hand reaches into the bag and extracts a single carrot. He offers the carrot to Pedro. The donkey gently takes the carrot that is offered in Alex's palm. This exchange is repeated many times, until two goats join Alex and Pedro.

The two goats begin to vie for carrots from Alex. One goat butts at Alex through the fence. Pedro nudges the goats out of the way, and continues to munch on the carrots.

A carrot drops from Alex's hand to the ground. Two goats, Pedro and Alex all search the ground for the lost carrot. Alex carefully moves blades of dried grass until he finds the rogue carrot. He then brushes the dirt and grass from the carrot before offering it to Pedro.

When the last carrot has been eaten, the two goats wander back to their herd. Alex and Pedro remain separated by the fence. Alex climbs through the fence and rubs Pedro on the head and nose. Pedro nuzzles Alex's hand as he caresses him.

As the sun sinks low in the sky, Alex climbs back through the fence and begins his trek through the open field to his own yard. Pedro watches him cross the field and then turns to meander through the pasture to his little shelter.

As Alex enters his yard, he brays to Pedro. Pedro stops his journey home long enough to return Alex's call with a bray of his own.

With this ritual completed, Alex goes inside and refills his baggie with carrots. Alex places the baggie in the refrigerator door, ready for the next encounter with Pedro.

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