Blog Schedule

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, February 6, 2017

Island Idylls: Yeknod and Being Thankful

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

Last month I wrote about the Irascible Erasmus, a donkey with a mind of his own.

This month I'd like to introduce you Yeknod.

We had her while we lived at and ran our guest house at Lille Maho on St. John. I was in my teens. I thought of her as mine and named her Yeknod, which you may have noticed is donkey spelled backwards. In temperament, she was the opposite of Erasmus.

Yeknod was docile and friendly. See how she's looking at the person taking this picture? She was more like a dog than donkey. She brayed a greeting to the first person she saw each morning. She nuzzled and pushed her head against your hands and body looking to be scratched between the ears or searching for a treat. More than once she followed me into the house when I went to fill her water bucket or get her favorite snack of grapefruit rinds.

I had a western pony saddle which I used for long rides, but mostly I rode her bareback, often without a halter and reins, just her tether rope wrapped around her neck. Unlike Erasmus, Yeknod was born to be ridden and seemed to know when I was going to take her out.

I’d wind her tether rope around her neck, (which she didn't chew through) sling my saddle bags across her shoulders, hop up, and off we’d go.

How, you may ask, do you ride a donkey without reins and bridle? All I did was tap her neck on the left and she’d go right, tap her on the right and she’d go left. Yeknod was also unique in that she could single foot, which was wonderfully smooth. To get her up to speed I’d tickle her between her shoulder blades. She had to work her way into it. The run would start out in that stiff-legged, spine jarring trot donkeys have, but with a little more tickling she'd pick up speed and then it was smooth sailing.

There were a couple of long flat places where I liked to get her to run; the stretch of road by Big Maho and the stretch by Cinnamon Bay. It seemed to me she knew what I wanted because she’d pick up her pace when we reached those places as if anticipating my fingers between her shoulder blades.

She was such an easy ride that I often rode with one leg hanging down, the other with knee bent resting across her shoulders in a kind of modified side saddle. I could switch legs and ride either side. She didn’t care.

Yeknod and I wandered all over St. John. Sometimes we only went out for a few hours. Sometimes we made a whole day of it (which is when I'd saddle her up). We’d go along the roads (most of which weren't yet paved) or explore the old foot trails. Usually on the way home we’d stop at Cinnamon Bay (the National Park Camp Ground), where I’d buy a ginger beer and take a dip in the ocean. I’d unwind her tether rope and tie her up in the shade somewhere. The people who ran the campground knew me and would loan me a bucket so I could give her water. She always attracted tourists and enjoyed their attentions. Occasionally I'd give kids short rides.

Maho flower. They are a
member of the Mallow
Maho tree
Only once did she behave out of character. I should have known she didn’t want to be ridden when she acted skittish. Foolish me, I tried to ride her anyway. She took off with me down the hill to the beach and headed towards a maho tree with low branches. I realized immediately she intended to scrape me off her back, but I didn’t have time to fling my arms around her neck, nor I could roll off her back as there were some rocks in the way. I only had time to stretch myself across her back, legs wrapped around her neck. As it was the branch she went under was so low it scraped the bottom of my chin. As soon as we were out from under the tree and free of rocks I rolled off her back onto the sand. She trotted back up the hill toward the house and brayed at me like she was laughing or heckling me.

Not long after that incident, Yeknod died of colic and was buried at sea. I cried at her loss, feeling I had somehow failed her. I loved that donkey, and I like to think she loved me.

I still miss her.

Being Thankful

Today I'm thankful for... coloring books. 
Long before adult coloring books became all the rage I was given this book (published in 1979) with beautiful illustrations by Michael Green who, for me, captured the characters and essence of Middle Earth like no other.

Here are some of the pages I colored.
 And here are some (not all) of my coloring books.

 I don't color as often as I'd like to, but this is my most recent attempt (not quite finished) from the Art Nouveau book.

What are you thankful for? Do you like to color? Ever ridden a donkey?


  1. Sounds like she was the perfect donkey and you knew each other well. Except for that last ride of course.

  2. What a sweet donkey! Sounds like you and she had lots of fun when you were a kid.

  3. I've ridden horses, but not donkeys. Sounds like you two had some exciting times. The coloring book of Middle Earth is a treasure. My kids have gotten some coloring books (that aren't just Disney characters) and I've colored with them. I never would have anticipated this trend for adult coloring books, but it can be relaxing.

  4. Yeknod looks sweet. I imagine you were a good pair. When I was a girl, I loved to color. Not so much now. Don't know what changed.

  5. Yeknod sounds like a sweetie. Reminds me of a donkey at a ocean camp we visited every year. Finnegan was such a gentle little guy.

  6. That Hobbits Journal looks like so much fun!

    Donkeys are adorable. Thanks for telling us about Yeknod.

  7. What lovely memories you shared. I have never ridden a donkey. I used to color with my children and enjoyed it very much. Your coloring books are beautiful.


  8. What a sweet story! It sounds like she loved you for sure!

  9. That's a lovely story, Bish. I love island stories. I haven't ridden a donkey, but I've ridden a camel...does that count? There's so much I'm thankful for, one is blogging and reading interesting stories like yours.

  10. Cool pictures. About the donkey--are you saying it was oppositionally defiant? ;)

  11. Wow! You have lots of beautiful coloring books. I have not tried coloring in a long time- but I do find sketching very therapeutic and do it on a regular basis.

    Yeknod sounds like a wonderful friend and I am sure the love between you was mutual. I know the pain of losing an animal that I have been attached to and miss. Thanks for sharing your memories with us.

  12. More dog than donkey--that made me laugh! I've never ridden a donkey, but I have ridden a horse with a saddle. Interesting how you directed the donkey what to do. What a different childhood you had!

  13. Early in life I had rides on a cow from Violet who lived up the road.
    Love the coloring work you do. Suitable for framing actually. Luv Ya

  14. Hi Bish - sorry I'm late ... I knew I'd want to give the post some thought .. what a lovely story you told of Yeknod - great name! You could definitely weave a few tales around her ... perhaps a mystery or two as well ... and I could definitely visualise your idylls ... when we lose an animal it is very heart breaking ...

    I don't colour ... but I'm sure I did as a child ... though art like riding were things that I wasn't that good at! Lovely - cheers Hilary


Your Random Thoughts are most welcome!