We are so country out here in the wilds of Haena on the north shore of Kauai, where kabillion dollar homes on the beach nestle near more modest local houses, where all manner of wildlife and domesticated animals live on the same acreage.
Across the street from the home of Toni and C.B. Martin (where we are happily staying in their Tiki Hut cottage on a lovely acre that over two decades Toni has coaxed into a full-fledged botanical garden) lies a fenced pasture, always green-grassed and often occupied by four-legged ones munching away.
Each day as we drive or walk by we’ve spotted three pipi (cows), three lio (horses) and a hoki (donkey) outstanding in their field. One late afternoon the horses and donkey grazed in soft light, usually good for photographing, so I borrowed Dick’s snazzy iPhone 11 Pro and went across the road. Immediately, one of the lio came toward me, thinking, I’m sure, This two-legged one likely has a treat for me. She didn’t, unfortunately, and she felt bad about that. But she took their photos anyway.
And the first one’s hoaloha (friends) came to join us at the fence.
Though the horses clearly have the upper hand (hoof?) in this pasture, the little donkey was not shy.
Each of them came to me to sniff and nuzzle my hand, the large brown and white one ready with teeth. I pulled away and let the back of my hand rest higher on her (?) nose, which she allowed.
After a bit she moved closer to the smaller brown horse, possibly younger, and began to nuzzle the brown one’s neck. The brown one stood quietly and closed her (?) eyes. I had a flash of a mother nuzzling a foal, and wondered if this one had been her baby. Or her good friend? “Hoaloha,” I remembered, also means “beloved friend.”
And that reminded me of the wonderful James Wright poem, “A Blessing”:
Just off the highway to Rochester, Minnesota,
Twilight bounds softly forth on the grass.
And the eyes of those two Indian ponies
Darken with kindness.
They have come gladly out of the willows
To welcome my friend and me.
We step over the barbed wire into the pasture
Where they have been grazing all day, alone.
They ripple tensely, they can hardly contain their happiness
That we have come.
They bow shyly as wet swans. They love each other.
There is no loneliness like theirs.
At home once more,
They begin munching the young tufts of spring in the darkness.
I would like to hold the slenderer one in my arms,
For she has walked over to me
And nuzzled my left hand.
She is black and white,
And the light breeze moves me to caress her long ear
That is delicate as the skin over a girl’s wrist.
Suddenly I realize
That if I stepped out of my body I would break
And I did blossom a bit as I stood outside the fence, admiring them, inhaling their equine essence, talking to them, promising to return with apples—something I’m pretty sure that I did the last time I was here. Because I’ve learned that it never hurts to show up with a sweet treat for a friend or four, especially our four-hooved friends.