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By Joe Block 

Around the Block


July 25, 2019

Joe Block

Left, Jote. Right, there are three of these little girls.

Sunday, July 14th started like every day for me in the last year.

I woke at 7 a.m., because like my father I am cursed to wake at the same time every day without fail, and muttered "Good morning" to no one in particular. The only other presence in my apartment was my dog, who was snoring next to me and, not being a morning dog, did not care for or hear my greeting.

Because I live in the future my bedroom lights came on with the glow of a nice warm sunrise, my Google Home began to tell me what was on my calendar for the day (writing, always writing), and told me the current weather conditions from my weather station (because I'm a weather geek). News from The Guardian followed, where I heard the tales of New Yorkers trapped in elevators during a power outage. I thanked whatever deity I currently identified with that I moved out of cities years ago.

Craving a cigarette but not giving in to my baser instincts, I walked to my couch, picking up a Cranberry Red Bull on the way (the only palatable flavor, and that's not saying much). Coffee is for the winter only. I then spent a half hour scrolling through about 100 news, politics, sports, and geeky websites on my tablet as the caffeine took hold. The air conditioner kicked on as soon as I entered the room, sensing my presence, because I am indeed, a geek.

Sunday mornings are for work. Although the idea of a regular weekly schedule is a bit of a joke for a newspaper editor, I had managed to eke out something where my weekends started early, and ended with a few hours of work Sunday morning. Sunday work entailed going through 30 or so e-mails from previous week, copying and editing the text, and proofing. (All those library corners and columns you read, plus local announcements.) After that I write my stories for the week, which I enjoy very much because I can zone out and get lost in minutiae.

This totally normal day was a blazing one-upper 80's, disgusting humidity, bad enough that even my dog, once she woke, had no desire to go out, and neither did I. We made a cursory walk around 9 a.m. and ran back to the air conditioning. I live in the attic of a barn, so I spend my summers delightfully cooped up there with the temperature set at 62.

Around 10 a.m. I got a text from my landlord, which was odd because she lived about 50 feet away and I knew she was home. It read "Come see our new pet."

I should note that I live in a rural area, not really a farm, but a with a menagerie of animals. When I moved here 10 years go, there were just chickens and a dog. Soon after there were four goats. Then down to two goats. Then ferrets, a new dog, new chickens, and then my own dog. A few months ago sheep appeared.

Born a city boy, I fled the suburban concrete jungle for greener pastures, and my current home was perfect. I had always loved animals, harassing my parents for years until they got me a dog when I was a tween. It wasn't until I was settled down that I got my own dog, and soon after arrived all my landlord's animals.

My dog and I went down the stairs, peeking through the window out at the goat barn (because I live in a barn and have a window into another barn-it's rustic here). I didn't see anything except the same old Nigerian dwarf goat that we currently have, lazily sitting on a bench.

I walked around the barn and the first thing I saw was an ass.

He backed up and I saw all of him. "Jote" was a 20 year old donkey on his third home. My landlord was beaming, holding his halter as he gingerly approached the fence. Neighbors and children approached and there were many "awws" and "oohs" as he gazed around, blinking, trying to figure out what was going on. He was a gentle boy, taking great pleasure in burying his head in my landlord's arms, walking along the fence for pets and scratches.

My dog stood on the driveway and intently started at me, angry I was petting another animal.

Joe Block

Left, Jote. Right, there are three of these little girls.

I eventually went back inside and started work again. After a few hours I visited Jote, but he stood back in the barn and just eyed me. That went on for four days. Even carrots couldn't bring him out. I had to throw them near his feet, and he wouldn't eat until I left.

That Wednesday I woke as I always do and went to visit. I had forgotten the carrots so I didn't expect much. However, Jote came trotting out towards me and there was much happiness. I went inside the fence and we snuggled and played. This has been our relationship ever since.

I learned the real meaning behind his name a bit later. He is a donkey. Donkey Jote. (Say it out loud.)

Saturday, July 20th started like every day for me in the last year.

In the late afternoon as the storms rolled in I heard a commotion down below by Jote. I came downstairs to hear my landlord saying "They're terrified of the donkey!" Then I saw three new little goats and their mom.

Just another normal day.


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