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I post on Monday with an occasional random blog thrown in for good measure. I do my best to answer all comments via email and visit around on the days I post.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Erasmus

Island Idylls: Stories of growing up in the Virgin Islands.


Holbein-erasmus3



Erasmus.

And I'm not talking about the Dutch philosopher (1466 - 1536.)









No, I'm talking about this guy.
I have always had a deep fondness for donkeys. 

At different times during the years we lived on St. John, we owned two donkeys.

Erasmus was the first.


He was large for a donkey standing at the shoulder a good 13 to 14 hands. A male who had been gelded late in life, he retained fond memories of the ladies. At least once he took off running after a female while my sister and I were riding him. There I was on the “rumble” seat, arms wrapped around Erva's waist, hanging on for dear life.

We acquired Erasmus when I was about 6 ½ or 7 years old. Sometimes Erva and I rode him to school, a three mile journey into Cruz Bay that started somewhere around 6:30 or 7 in morning. We’d tie him up under the old tamarind tree across the street from the school and at 3 PM ride him back home.

Erasmus had a few distinct quirks. We learned early on he would chew through his tether rope and 
go wandering off in search of his favorite snack, a parasitic leafless vine called yellow love.

Yellow love kills what it grows on.


We soon changed the rope to a chain and often wondered what he experienced the first time he tried to chew through it.

Another quirk was what he did when we tried to mount him. He would stand patiently while he was being saddled, the epitome of good behavior. But once one of us went to put foot into stirrup he would kick his left rear leg forward, acting for all the world as if he wanted to get his own hoof into the stirrup and climb up onto his own back. We had to time getting a foot into the stirrup and swinging up onto his back between kicks. Once in the saddle he was generally well behaved.

Except when it was time for me to take my first solo ride.

On this particular day he stood patiently as Mom saddled him. I timed getting my foot into the stirrup, and voila! I was up on in the saddle. The intent was for me to ride around our large yard with Mom and Erva near at hand. But Erasmus had other plans.

Maybe he sensed I was a bit afraid. Maybe he thought, “Ha! Novice rider, I’ll teach her a lesson she won’t soon forget.” Maybe he had an itch on his back. Or maybe he was in a bad mood. Whatever was going on in his donkey mind, it soon became apparent he didn’t want to be ridden. He pulled hard against the reins, dropping his head towards the ground. Mom and Erva were both yelling at me to pull up on the reins. But I couldn’t keep his head up. I wasn't strong enough. He dropped to his front knees. I’m screaming. “He’s gonna roll!”

Mom, calm as anything says, “Just step off when he gets to the ground.” Which somehow I managed to do. And there was Erasmus rolling in the dirt, kicking his legs heavenward like a dog, until the saddle was hanging down around his belly.

When he was through he was easily caught and stood patiently while he was unsaddle, acting for all the world as if nothing had happened. And I learned I could easily step off a donkey should it decide to roll.

***
Being Thankful
Today I'm thankful that the cold weather is letting up. I'm not fond of 16 degree mornings.
***
What are you thankful for? Have you ever ridden a donkey or spent any time around one? Are you a cold weather person or could you do without it?

30 comments:

  1. I never rode a donkey. I wasn't good at riding horses and had a similar experience to your first donkey ride. I'm grateful that it's warming up a bit here in Michigan--28 will be the high. Maybe I can walk today.

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    1. Horses have always intimidated me a bit, Natalie. Donkeys, being smaller were/are much more *user friendly.* :)

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  2. What an experience to have a donkey as a kid. I'm sure he was disappointed with that chain.

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  3. Hello Bish, I loved reading about Erasmus, thank you for making me smile! I’ve only ridden a donkey once, and that was on holiday in Greece. That donkey must have been really fed up with tourists because he had worked out a little trick. Each time he came anywhere near a building he would amble towards it (regardless of what I did) and get just close enough to rub my leg against the brickwork! He never once touched a building with any part of his own body, just my leg, which was red raw and bleeding by the end of the ride. We hung around for a while to see how the next person would fare, and the donkey did exactly the same thing. Thinking about it now I don’t suppose he had much of a life and I and everyone else probably got what they deserved. :-)

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    1. Oh my. That donkey was definitely trying to give you the brush-off! He desperately wanted a break.

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  4. I adore donkeys! We had our beloved Harry growing up, and he hated to be ridden. His favorite trick was to wait until you were just settled, and while reaching for his mane (we mostly rode bareback), he'd drop his head and sometimes front knees and you'd roll off front-wise. Or, low hanging branches were his other little trick. He was a bit of a scoundrel, but I miss him terribly!

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    1. I can SO see this happening! Donkeys are a hoot, with such strong individual personalities.

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  5. What a funny little donkey. I went to a church camp every spring that had donkeys to ride. My favorite was an old grey one named Finnegan. He was a sweetie.

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    1. Erasmus has his moments for sure, but he was big for a donkey.

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  6. Donkeys are so cute. I actually have a calendar for 2017 with donkeys on it. :)

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    1. Cool! I haven't seen a donkey calendar, though I'm sure if I searched the net I'd find one!

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  7. Haha "when he was through" Making a point, was he? ;)

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  8. Donkeys do have a mind of their own don't they? Christopher Reeves had a bad fall from a horse so your correct about the animals ability to sense nervousness.

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    1. Horses have always made me a bit nervous because they're so much bigger.

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  9. That was one philosophical donkey you had there. Let 'em on, lull them into a false sense of security, and then roll! What a great story, Bish.

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  10. No, I've never ridden a donkey. And I can take or leave cold weather, but I'm used to it because I live in New England.

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    1. I guess you'd have to grow up with the cold to be able to get used to it. It was 55 here this morning, much more tolerable!

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  11. I love your memories of your time on St. John. Nope, I'm not a donkey person. RaisedmQuarter Horses for quite a few years while we lived in Colorado and Idaho, but never donkeys.

    I used to be more a lover of cold weather, but anymore, nit so much. I think I was spoiled by those years in the Caribbean.

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    1. Quarter horses! Very nice. As for the cold... I could use me a sea bath right about now.

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  12. I'm thankful that my mother's operation was a success. Tumor free now. Although the healing process will take months.
    My mom and step-dad adopted a donkey at a rescue center :)
    Happy New Year, Bish!

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    1. Glad your mom is doing better. It's wonderful that they've adopted a donkey. I wish I had the room for one.

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  13. Hi Bish - I could never ride a horse ... and got on one in Ireland - went up the hill quite happily - at the stop - he threw me off .. my head hurt! My SIL loves donkeys ... but now has ponies and traps ... Erasmus - love the name! The cold is meant to be coming down from the north - I rather hope it stays away ... but I enjoy the seasons ... cheers Hilary

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    1. Oh no! To be thrown off a horse is not a fun thing. I'm glad the cold snap is over, 55 degrees this morning and looking to get into the upper 60s. This I can handle.

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  14. "And I learned I could easily step off a donkey should it decide to roll." That's quite a metaphor!

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  15. a rolling donkey? ha! what a sight that must've been - good for you learning to jump off and "roll with it" hee hee
    i bet those 16 degree temps are a far cry from the virgin islands!

    and wanted to thank you for stopping by my cradle rock release party! happy 2017

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  16. Hi Bish,

    I've never seen a donkey apart from pics. We have a horse which picks food off my hand though.

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Your Random Thoughts are most welcome!