Thursday was my birthday, and as is my custom, I took the day off from office work. Some folks have told me that they find this a "quaint" custom, and I suppose they mean that a middle-aged woman should be above making such a fuss over a birthday. Apparently most women my age prefer not to dwell on anything that reminds them that they are getting older. I've never been one to resent getting older, especially when you stop to consider the alternative, and neither am I someone who requires being "fussed" over. Rather, the customary day off came about because of my career in human resources management - and the first year when a manager at a company where I worked needed my presence during the termination of an employee who had numerous performance issues. It occurred to me that I had better ways of marking the day than firing someone, and so we settled on another date for our meeting with the soon-to-be former employee - and I have taken my birthday off ever since.
This year, I wanted a quiet day of reflection. I planned to achieve this by taking my knitting and sitting out back with the donkeys nearby while I worked on my current project. What luck - the day promised to be unusually sunny and lovely. The temperature was a mild 65 degrees, with a slight breeze. A beautiful day for idling around the garden and the donkeys.
As you can see, I was not the only one who welcomed the sunny day! With his high-maintenance white coat, you'd think our cat would know better, but he couldn't resist lounging in the sun-warmed earth of the one of the small raised beds next to the kitchen.
I set out towards the donkey's main pasture, passing one of their dust baths on my way to a pretty spot where I could sit and knit. Look what the dust bath revealed, plain as day:
At first I thought these were groundhog prints, because we see those critters the most - and their paws are so well padded, but after consulting one of our wildlife books, I'm not so sure these aren't raccoon prints. Groundhogs have four "toes" in front and raccoons have five. Plus, it looks like the edge of the longer rear paw is visible in the lower left corner of the photo. The tracks couldn't have been there long, either, because the donkeys use their dust bath several times a day, especially when the day is sunny. But then that would mean that we have a raccoon traipsing around in the donkeys' dust bath during the day.
Speaking of donkeys, Molly and Ambrose most obligingly followed me to my knitting spot. They grazed nearby while I knit, an arrangement that seemed to content us all. Every once in a while, one of the donks would come over and visit with me while I scratched behind an ear or offered a treat of carrot or while Ambrose tried to mouth the yarn I was working with.
At one point, when I got up to stretch my legs, Ambrose ambled over to check out my unguarded knitting bag. At least that's what I thought he was up to, until he made it clear that his real interest was in sniffing the rock where I had been sitting. Have I ever mentioned how much the donkeys are like big dogs?!
After knitting for a good while, I took a walk with the donkeys before ending my relaxing afternoon sojourn. I passed under the tall spruce on my way to the house, and there - newly dropped - was the tree's latest gift: