Saturday, May 24, 2008

Three Miles

Today I got the wise idea to ride my bike to volunteer at Furrytale Farm on Bainbridge Island. What the heck, it's only three miles, I thought as I pushed my bike up the gravel driveway. I was sweating by the time I reached the road, my heart pounding wildly before I reached the first hill. I ended up pushing my bike a lot of the way, panting like a worn out dog. I prayed to every pickup truck that passed, "PLEASE give me a RIDE". I pushed past driveways, and hairy alpacas. Inhale. Exhale. I pushed like a mule, my back parallel with the hills. Breathe, Kristin. I almost considered turning back until I reached the top, and saw THIS through a grove of cedar trees:

If those powerful peaks could push through the Earth, I could push on to the animal farm. And I am so glad I did.

My first "assignment" was getting to know two litters of brand new puppies (two weeks old, next time I promise to take pictures) . I sat with them in a shed as they nursed, squealing and grunting as they suckled. I held each tiny, new life in my hands, looked into their squinty eyes. Some of the pups latched on to my fingers, sucking so frantically I could hardly pull away. I scratched tiny bellies and little legs kicked. I touched miniature feet as mother dog looked on with big, brown eyes. Thirteen years old and still giving birth. That's like a 70 year old woman with 6 newborns. Each life is so precious, no matter how small.

Then it was on to the pot-bellied pigs, there are thirteen total. They looked at me warily through beady eyes as I scooped poop and talked to them quietly. Huge tusks pushed out from under a wiggly snouts as the animals grunted and groaned. It sounded like dogs growling, so I kept my distance, until we fed them baby carrots.

"If you peek into that shed over there, you'll notice it always smells only like straw," says farm founder Suzannah, "They are some of the cleanest, smartest animals I've ever known."
I touched the scaly skin and wiry hair gingerly, until the pigs ran away to find a spot in the shade.

The bike ride home wasn't quite as difficult, and I feel so joyful and refreshed after being around the animals, and a woman so passionate to provide them with a good home. I relished every downhill on the way back, and even enjoyed the one very difficult uphill. I took several breaks to drink water and stare at those Olympic mountains. Beauty surrounds us all the time, everywhere, and I believe the ability to appreciate it can get us through any rough spot.
Right now I am lounging on my chaise with the windows open, listening to birdsong. Tree leaves are glowing in the sun and dancing in the breeze, which washes over me, drying sweat from the bike ride. I am in complete peace, remembering to breathe, enjoying every moment of life. Inhale. Exhale.


Dan-Eric Slocum said...

Thanks for taking us along. Beautiful day.

Colleen said...

What a beautiful story you tell! I feel like I was right there with you!!

I can't believe you live so close to the Olympics. I have never been to those peaks, but now I will!!

I'm so proud of you for volunteering at that farm too. Next time, let us both huff and puff our way there!

Travis said...

what an unexpected adventure. thanks for the vivid words and amazing pictures!

I hope furrytale can survive...are they coping any better?

Kristin said...

She is still having a hard time, saying my news story didn't really generate donations, it generated more people calling to drop off their dogs. She now has 30-something dogs, and someone drove up with another dog while I was there. I think I'm going to help her plan a fundraiser.

Colleen said...

Sad! I can help you organize if you'd like. Let's do it!

P.S. I get the most amazing word verification combos. Mine this time: zahzumm!