Almost every morning I have been getting up and going immediately for a three mile walk with Muddy. We walk the main road over to a quiet side road that leads to one of the many bays, and at the end of that road is an apple tree I have come to know and love. She produces these tiny little apples and they are just the right combination of tart and sweet.
Even as a little girl, the act of pulling of an apple inspired me to thank the tree. They are individual and some apple trees just cry out to me more,
Hello there, come by, take my apples, please, the wasps and worms get so many, take some for yourself, or your animals, I can feel her say.
I stuff my pockets and we walk back to the farm and I begin my feeding routine. Boone always gets the most apples, Rosie gets one in her dish too, and then I bring Old Matilda out of the pasture so she can eat her senior feed on her own. The pigs have their own fruits that fall off of Old Apple, and the flock have M'Lady's tiny fruits they can graze on. We also have found some old apple trees on the edges of The Wood that we will hope to nurture back to better health.
But it's the ritual of feeding the donkeys apples that makes me smile the most. They tease and probe with their camelid like lips. They take apple feeding very seriously, and to them it is sometimes a competition. For if you have an apple already in your mouth, that doesn't mean you can't try to stuff another one in, even if you take somebody else's apple.
Rituals are important on so many levels. They bring us consistency. Animals like consistency, and speaking as a creature myself, it is important, especially after a huge change like a move. The animals have had consistency for the entire transition-because I knew how important it was for them. But I was thinking that consistency in activities-be it walking, drinking your tea with the sunset, yoga, practicing music at a certain time-is slightly different than a ritual.
By going for my walk each morning [the consistency] I make it a focused goal to see the apple tree. I am focused on her, her leaves and bounty as I gather apples [ritual]. The key word is focus, on the now. The ritual of picking the apples makes me focus on the life that is right there, with me, now. I am not distracted. It brings me closer to the good things within me, and simple, but important things in my life. In that way, it is like communing with my higher power.
And it is also a gift sharing my bounty with my donkeys.