The other day found me heading for Tryfonas’ nursery again. I passed the (still mercifully) terrier-free house after the roundabout, and began on the uphill track. In front of me, a backhoe laboured up the same road. I spotted the donkey on the hill where he had been gazing the last time, and watched, horrified as he leapt down the bank into the path of the backhoe.
The driver barely slowed. Under the lower lip of the backhoe’s blade, I saw the four slender legs squarely planted on little hooves. As the digger advanced, they retreated a little. Then the driver raised the blade and must have just touched the donkey in the belly. Donk backed up all the way with a look of outraged indignation (I have always thought that donkeys have more expressive features than horses, although horses can pull some comical faces as well).
As I passed him, hot on the tail of the backhoe, he turned to face me, put his ears back, pointed his nose to the sky, and brayed.
“This!” he seemed to be saying, “is what I think of you ignorant louts who shove me out of the way with nary a stroke nor a treat.”
“Precious,” I said to him – now back in the middle of the road and at the full extent of his tether. “I’ll stop for you on my way out.”
But when I left, he was grazing, and didn’t bother to try for my attention. I just wished I’d had my camera.