Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Reba and Fred

This man claims to be 69, believe it or not, and is trying to get this powerful mule to kiss him.

Reba is a perfectly sane molly mule with whom Fred, who is not so sane, fell in love!
by Charlie Leck

David Williamson writes a blog that I consider one of my very favorites (Van Peebles Land). In a recent post he made this observation about friendship that has 'something' to do with what I want to say today:
"The definition of friendship is when you greet someone you haven’t seen for years but with whom, within minutes of meeting again, you instantly fall back into a rhythm of joshing and japing.

"Such camaraderie makes time elastic. It’s what stretches between the crises, plans, achievements, milestones and fiascoes which fill life, and is one of the glories of humanity.

"With the right music, it’s possible to jump from reminiscing about old times to actually experiencing them again."
What am I to do? An old friend comes to visit and we treat him hospitably and give him a great deal of attention. We offer him lots of possibilities. We have one of America's most extraordinary and beautiful cities very close by. There is great theatre and there are remarkable museums. One of America's largest and finest Universities is a part of our community. Fine dining awaits at every turn. The splendor of Lake Minnetonka is practically at our doorstep. Twenty-one lakes lie within the city limits of Minneapolis. The Mall of America is only a half hour away. I'm a member at an extremely fine golf club.

Would he choose the Guthrie Theatre or the Minneapolis Institute of Arts for a visit today? Or, perhaps, a round of golf?

None of this magnificence seems to interest him. He's gotten old and.... what? Senile is probably not the right word here because it connotes a neurological condition beyond one's ability to control. Fred, our friend now given a name, simply prefers, and chooses, to be goofy. And, indeed he is.

Our guest facility has only a regular size double bed in it. There, Fred slept with his gigantic dog, the Great Dane, Puppy. He also had another much more modest dog with him, a part lab named Buddy. Fred's great love is walking his dogs and he loved taking along our dog, Jasper.

On one of his walks through the farm, Fred met another creature with whom he fell instantly in love. Without our permission, of course, he carefully opened the gate and squeezed into the paddock in a manner that precluded the dogs from getting in. There, at first sight, Fred fell in love with Reba.

Each day, Fred had to have his Reba fix. He went down to the farm to see her. He went to the big, red hay barn and found hand fulls of hay for her. He would return to the house with glowing reports about how beautiful the mule is and how much he loved her and she him. He was like a child with a silly crush; however, he is not a child; he is a thoroughly grown and elderly man in his mid 70s, who claims to be only 69.

I noticed that the big Great Dane was beginning to get jealous. Though she was not permitted in the paddock, Puppy showed signs of wanting to tangle with the mule. Of course, this would have been a drastic and dramatic mistake because a mule could strike such a dog in an instant with anyone of her hooves and drop the attacker near death.

Reba is a riding mule who was trained in the discipline of endurance racing. My wife, Anne, bought her a year ago to take out for casual, pleasure riding from time to time. Anne has always had a soft spot in her heart for mules and there has nearly always been one living with us. Molly was the first. Anne owned that sweetheart when the two of us married. She hung around with us for a long time and gave buggy rides to lots of children. Becky and Katie were matched, pinto driving mules and we showed them off in a number of parades and they looked beautiful pulling a sleigh through the winter snow. Annie was not such a successful experiment. Anne spent many hours with that mule, trying to break her, but it wasn't to be. So Annie got just to live here and enjoy the pastures and the other animals without taking the responsibilities of chores and contributions.

Now, Reba is the latest in this line of mules at Native Oaks Farm. And now, also, she has a new and deeply attached friend. I thought Fred might be sorry to leave us all when he pointed his van southwest this morning and drove away, but he was thinking of Reba and not us as he bumped his way down the driveway.

Fred is a lovable old coot. I'm so happy Reba took to him and didn't kick him in the groin when he entered her paddock with no one else around to assist him -- and in spite of the very visible signs we have around the farm warning people not to do such a thing. Yet, Fred is demented enough and self-centered enough to believe such signs are not meant for him. He's also very lucky to have survived into this 75th or 76th year of his life.

1 comment:

  1. yes charlie,
    it's so obvious that anne has always had "a soft spot for mules."