But first a word about me and donkeys (also sometimes referred to as jackasses in the U.S.): Back in my state natal of California, these were humorous, big-eared creatures whose voice, even, was hilaroius: Hee-haw! Here in France, I first came to know and appreciate the animal called the ane in a culinary fashion; the best salami/saucisson I’ve ever tasted is ane, brought back for me by my Yank buddy Pam from the Haute Savoie. The ideal formula is 50 percent donkey, 50 percent pork; smells like donkey-dung but tastes sublime. Not so sublime was the sight I beheld last fall at the Foire de Bestiaux, Faire of farm animals in Le Buisson one Friday morning. Alongside the cows, horses, birds and other animals was one incredibly depressed and sad looking group of donkeys. I don’t mean sad as in they were in sad shape, although they were kind of that, but that their heads were hanging down and they… just… looked … sad. No more donkey salami for Paul!
Par contre, roundabout where I live, or lived, until yesterday (I write you now from new digs in the big city a.k.a. Perigueux, the departmental seat of the Dordogne. Yay 24! ((Same number as Willie Mays. Say Hey!)), at the far end of the wide-ranging horse farm looked over by towering cliffs, across from the deshevelled former gite down the little dirt road, is one pair of happy, eager-looking dark brown spry long-eared jackasses. My guess is that they’re happy, or rather not sad, because far from being destined for my mouth, they’re riding-donkeys for kids at the former gite.
So last Tuesday morning, I’d just started down Tobacco Road (so-named by me because there used to be a ballfield, er, tobacco farm there), with Boobah the neighbor collie/Belgian sheep-dog faithfully prepared to follow me the 12 KM to Le Bugue for the King Charles V declared Tuesday market, when down the road I perceived a pair of romping, well, either very large dogs, very large sangliers (wild boars) or donkey-sized donkeys. As soon as they saw me, or so it seemed, they hastened their trot and headed straight down the road, on which they were indeed driving, towards me and my adopted dog. “About-face, Boobah!” I declared as we made a 180-degree turn. By the time I got to the house near the train crossing and yelled at the serene but lively 95-year-old lady (I mention her age only because she’s as spry as those donkeys), “The donkeys are coming! The donkeys are coming!” the donkeys had turned into the short underground tunnel that leads from Tobacco Road to the horse farm and were heading for home.