“They’re goats! I’m telling you they’re goats!”

I laughed to myself as the boy’s voice rang out from somewhere behind me, the whir of his bike wheels letting me know he was heading down the street in my direction. I couldn’t see much of the street, crouched down as I was, but I had a feeling he was talking about my Lilly, who is most definitely not a goat.

molly and lilly

Lilly was stoutly standing watch over me as I cleaned out the hooves of her companion, Molly. Molly is an elderly mule, a red roan with the most beautiful long, auburn ears. She has old lady joints and prefers to have her feet tended to while she is lying down; I comply, hence, the current crouching which has me shielded from the view of the boy who is certain he has spotted some goats.

I stand up and see two boys circling their bikes back and forth in the dirt road just across my fence line, the one boy still going on about the goats he sees.

“Actually, she’s a miniature donkey!” I holler over to him, waving.

He repeats it to his friend, delighted. I wonder whether it occurs to him that his friend was equally able to hear me. Probably not. His enthusiasm simply boils over, can’t be contained.

Wanting to add to their fun a bit, I call out again, “Across the street, there’s a bison!”

“Whoa, really?  Hey guess what, there’s a bison over there! Do you see it? I SEE IT! I SEE IT, IT’S LYING DOWN!”

They chatter as they continue up the street, the two boys on their bikes, and now, I see, a young girl following them on her scooter, looking a bit reluctant, as if she’s all too aware that she’s the odd one out.

Then the boy who strikes me as their leader, sees my horse Sky.  “Whoa, look at that horse.  He’s a BEAUT!”  My heart does a little flip of pride as the troupe heads off into the distance.

I turn my attention back to Molly, delighted by my encounter.  I’m struck by the boy’s complete surrender to the joy of his experience.  His carefree ways feel like a most-welcome intrusion into the seriousness of my adult life, like an unexpected reminder of my prayers for more fun, more abandoning myself to joy and more unstructured play.

When I was a kid, I spent hours in the woods behind my house, building teepees, running around pretending to be a horse, or walking to a friend’s house. When the swamp froze over, my brother and his friends played hockey on the thin ice, occasionally breaking through to find that the cold water was only ankle deep.  Play was hours and hours of doing and creating for no reason other than because it was fun.

Now, my idea of play is to see if a 28-year-old mule will allow me to trim her hooves while she’s lying down.  She does.  She even allows me to prop her legs up with blankets and yoga blocks so I can get a better perspective.  It’s pretty awesome.  Or should I say…OMG, MOLLY LET ME PROP UP HER FEET WITH YOGA BLOCKS WHILE I TRIMMED HER HOOVES, OMG IT WAS SO COOL, SHE EVEN STRETCHED HER LEGS OUT AND LAID FLAT OUT LIKE SHE WAS GETTING A PEDICURE IN A SPA!!!!!!!  I FELT LIKE SUCH A BADASS!!!