Warm spring breezes awaken wanderlust. Puffs of prairie breath hitch rides on sun rays and condense into cotton fields of clouds. They drift sleepily across azure skies. Cooper and I head out to the Running Water Draw roughly ten miles north of town. Once afoot, we pause at a nearly dry water hole stuffed with tumbleweeds. A distant bray by semi-feral burros alerts Cooper. Several equus asinus top the rise behind us and beat hooves our way. I cannot resist a chuckle and dub their rhythmic gait the Llano two-step. They are part of a small herd roaming the Wild Burro Hacienda grounds at Ned Houk Park. The advance halts in front of Cooper and me. I try to read the intentions within the inquisitive eyes of our beholders. They come in peace.
Donkeys arose in Africa and have interacted with mankind for more than 5000 years. The first asses in the Americas arrive with Spanish explorers and missionaries. Some escape and become feral herds. Wild asses in the North American Southwest bear the Spanish moniker burro. They are tenacious survivors and even adapt to harsh desert lands. They compete successfully for limited water sources, often to the detriment of native mammals. When forage is slim burros live separated from each other, unlike wild horses. Donkeys use very loud vocalizations to keep in contact. Their unique brays of EE-Aw, EE-Aw easily carry several kilometers. Asses have larger ears than horses, which aside from improved hearing have a role in cooling their blood. The mane is stiff and upright and their tails are cow-like with a tasseled switch. Wild burros defend themselves with powerful kicks of their hind legs, bites, and strikes with their front hooves. Our presence soon tires the wild bunch and they depart with the traditional farewell of their ancestors, “¡Adiós amigos!”
Blue skies beckon and I get sidetracked by the late-winter solitude of Ned Houk Park, just down the road. Afternoon shadows caress the golden hues of dried grasses. They compose poetry of light. Their joyous refrains proclaims victory over winter and welcome spring.
© Ilija Lukić 2012
|Eye Of The Beholder|
|Late Winter Solitude (Ned Houk Park)|
|Poetry Of Light|
|Ready For Spring|