Most mornings I take a walk. Mornings are the best time of day because the cool air and the sun’s warmth seem balanced. My objective is often nothing more than to burn off excess energy. But some days are bonus days. Today was a bonus day.

I headed north from our camp through a wide, sandy wash. My attention was mainly focused on the rocks scattered to each side of the faint burro trail. Rarely do I return from my walk without several interesting rocks.

A half mile into this morning’s walk, as I scanned the nearby rocks for unusual specimens, a sudden ruckus roused me from my rockhounding. I looked up to see the hindquarters of a jackrabbit accelerating into the distance. As he darted side to side, his enormous ears seemingly balanced atop his head like an African woman’s clay jar of water, another, larger entity entered my field of vision. It was a coyote hot on the trail of the rabbit! Up the side of the wash the two of them shot like two jets in a dogfight. They disappeared over the top with the coyote matching the jackrabbit’s every dodge and turn. I scurried up the slope to see what happened but all that I could see from atop the rise was stillness and silence.

As I scanned the distance for any sight of the two I considered what must have preceded the little desert drama I had witnessed. Had the coyote been lying in wait for the rabbit as it grazed its way toward him? Had I spoiled his ambush? If so, what a dilemma I must have presented him: chance a dangerous encounter with a man or lose an oh-so-savory opportunity to feast on a jackrabbit.

I walked on to the end of the wash then turned back  toward camp. In the distance I could see the silhouette of a burro atop a ridge. He paid me no heed as I climbed the ridge toward him. Standing motionless, he was the picture of dejection as I approached. “Pedro the Lonely Burro” I dubbed him.

“What’s the matter, burro?” I asked with the exaggerated roll of my Rs that I often use when pronouncing that Spanish word. “Are you lonely?”

Pedro allowed me to within ten feet before he slowly ambled down the slope. He never did look at me.

I did not have to walk far before I encountered the source of Pedro’s dejection. This time it was a loud snort that directed my attention to the far side of the ridge on which Pedro had been standing. A mother burro and her young one, “Pedrito,” (as I shall call him) stared up at me.


Here I must confess to a peculiar fascination of mine. It is that poofy patch of woolly hair on the forehead of baby burros. Whenever I see that patch I have a strong compulsion to scratch and pet it. To my extreme disappointment, baby burros do not reciprocate my affection. This time, several loud snorts and the stamping of hooves from Mama burro let it be known that there would be no burro scratching today either, friendly or otherwise.

Clearly, Pedro had wanted to “gift” Mama burro with another baby burro. My guess is that Pedrito is all the responsibility Mama can handle at this time so she told Pedro that he could take his gift and stuff it. Pedro, poor dejected Pedro, walked slowly down the north side of the ridge. Lief, poor dejected Lief, rebuffed by yet another baby burro, walked slowly down the south side of the ridge and home to Mary for consolation.