Hot Air Balloons

ellie bell and doggiesA common site on the farm on 63rd are animals — of all sorts, wild and penned-in and some somewhere in between. There are long-necked llamas, gregarious goats, a pack of hooligan alpacas, guard geese that can sense fear, chickens, and the sweetest donkey. And of course, there are the two dogs, who often accompany the early harvest, Cedar and Roxie.

Roxie is a gangly teenager of a puppy with a white heart-shaped spot on her forehead. At somewhere around 8 months, her stature towers over many full-grown dogs. When she runs around her limbs comically bend in awkward ways. She often follows the workers to the fields as the harvest begins in the morning. She’ll pounce like a cat on anything that rustles or moves, whether or not it happens to be in the middle of the basil or some other crop.

Cedar is the watch dog, a powerful, vocal, and authoritative watch dog. Often in the mornings, she will sit remarkably quiet for what seems like hours while looking South. Then, she’ll suddenly burst into a round of barking. For the longest time, I couldn’t figure out why she would wait silently, always looking in the same direction. One morning, while harvesting Tuscan kale bunches, I spotted what she was waiting for off in the distance — Hot air balloons. She was waiting for them to rise over the tree line every morning, so she could bark at them and tell them who’s boss. Smart.

During a long harvest day, Roxie rolling over for a belly rub, the geese chancing you around or Ellie Bell, the donkey, coming over to the fence to say “hi”and to see if you have any treats for her, can give a kind of relief only animals can offer.

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