Ears looking at You…

Published 12:22 pm Thursday, July 16, 2009

As far as mini-mules go, ours is rather rebellious and not terribly grateful, considering he&squo;s a rescue.Two Fridays ago, as a scorchingly muggy day was drawing to its close, Paul and I were bringing the horses in from the fields for dinner when Lionel, the mule in question, slipped between two big warmbloods and squeaked through the gate at a brisk trot. Having witnessed this ploy before, it is not normally a matter of grave concern as Lionel, a greedy so and so, is usually only in a rude rush to get to his feed bucket and simply passes through the barn and into his tree-lined paddock.This day, however, he made a sharp turn before reaching his usual destination and tore through the apple orchard without even sampling a few windfalls which made me wonder if he was being targeted by yellow jackets or having an apoplectic fit. In a flash, he descended into the woods and, within minutes, I heard my neighbor&squo;s dogs alerting the world that something red with enormous ears and a scowling countenance was within the vicinity. Only a half hour earlier, my sister had left an inviting message on our answering machine, saying she was having my mother for tea, had baked scones and a cake and would I like to come over? Yes, I thought, stomping through the woods, stepping high with bare, scratched, legs over the abundant poison ivy, I would. The thought of being freshly showered and cool, sitting in her charming little house and sipping from her best china was an idyllic one that couldn&squo;t possibly have been realized in my current state of sweat and fury as I made the steep descent to where the woods spill out into acres of corn fields.Between splutterings of, &dquo;Stupid mule!&dquo; and &dquo;I should leave you out all night!&dquo; I would occasionally catch sight of rumpled leaves and droppings that could only have been deposited by something not quite 11 hands in height, giving me clues that Lionel was following the same path.Standing at the lip of the corn field, my attention was drawn to three tree stands, hundreds of feet apart, making the hair on my neck rise until I quickly remembered deer season hadn&squo;t officially begun. Having no clue to where my prey could be, I plunged straight into the corn which, at this stage, was nearing four feet high, wondering if I would come across any dead baseball players or, as a consolation, a mule. The earth was still damp from a recent rain and before too long appeared the distinct, tiny, hoof prints which led me on an interesting maze of circles and right angles. Shaking the feed scoop I had brought, I called, &dquo;Lionel…&dquo; in a low voice which he blatantly ignored, but was betrayed by the tips of his ears rising above the corn. &dquo;You wretched, wicked, beast!&dquo; I scolded, snapping the lead rope to his tiny halter and hauling him back up the hill into the woods where we were feasted upon by deerflies and mosquitoes. We took the long way around so that I could apologize to my neighbor for the ruckus and ended up at the top of their driveway into the street where I was met by Paul in his Honda.Noting my glare, he quickly lowered the driver&squo;s side window and from the air conditioned comfort within, bleated, &dquo;I was just coming to look for him!&dquo;&dquo;Yes,&dquo; I snapped, jerking open the car door, obliging him to step into the street and take charge of Lionel. &dquo;Everyone knows mules stick to the main road.&dquo; With that, I drove off in a huff, leaving man and mule in the middle of the road. It wasn&squo;t a kind thing to do, of course, but I was late for tea.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox