One early morning, years ago (and a few weeks into our first experience as homeowners), I pulled open the long white drapes covering our Spanish-style front windows and was met with a strange sight: a small black goat tethered with a short, frayed rope to our mailbox.
It might have been an omen – something like the black cat crossing your path or the owl flying over your house the wrong direction at just the wrong time. And it had to be a federal offense. (Surely our esteemed US Postal Service wouldn’t put up with goats attaching themselves to the sacred receptacles of our precious post.) But beyond that? I was at a loss.
So, I called Mike – absolutely certain he would know what this was all about.
After all, he was the one who made the offer on this small piece of county land we now called home. And, having grown up visiting his grandparents’ farm and having once rather seriously considered life as a sheepherder, wasn’t he educated in the ways of the country?
Surely he would know exactly why and how a goat came to be tied to our mailbox. Perhaps goats and and mailboxes were run-of-the-mill – something to be expected -- when living the country life (even if you were only a narrow strip of “country” surrounded mostly by suburbs).
But Mike did not know.
He merely acted (as any country dweller worth his salt would do when confronted with such a situation). How it got there was irrelevant (perhaps it was a gift from the gods). What to do now – now that the goat had landed in our arms (or close enough) -- was what mattered.
Of course, when I say “he acted”, what I mean is, “he instructed me to act”. He was at work and could only serve as a voice of instruction and encouragement at the precise moment when goat needed confronting.
The only reasonable thing to do, apparently, was to untie the goat -- keeping a firm hold on the rope and a stubborn resolve to continue dragging and pulling despite the goat’s bleating and determined resistance – and stick him safely in the fenced portion of our yard.
We would put up a FOUND sign later, certainly (though Mike was shocked at my naivety when I suggested a description for the sign. We would not be giving too many details -- color and size and the like -- as that would surely bring throngs of the unscrupulous who would be willing to lie and deceive – sacrificing any integrity -- all for a chance at a free goat).
In the meantime, toddler Abe fed the goat various leaves and twigs from about the yard and named him Honky.
And when, within a day, a call did come (with a matching description) from a young family around the corner whose goat had chewed through the rope that held him staked in their yard, I was surprised (having been a bit skeptical about the hoards of goat seekers, and a bit too certain that sensible folk would only be thrilled to wake and find their goat missing), but Mike and Abe were only disappointed.
And it was not much longer at all before I found myself the proud (or perhaps “reluctant” would fit better) owner of two pygmy goats – cleverly named Brownie and Whitey (and if you use your powers of reasoning and intellect, you might be able to deduce their colors)
13 years seems an incredibly long time to have passed since wearing that gorgeous white dress and securing myself forever to Mike, and, simultaneously, a ridiculously short amount of time to have experienced so much: to have lived in five homes, and three month-long temporary abodes; to have grown from two to eight; to have finished degrees and worked various jobs; to have known stress and worry and loss, and joy and peace and gain; and to have developed so many memories – so many shared stories – chasing horses trotting down busy roads, vans stuck in deep snow, delayed flights keeping us apart, bunnies hopping around outside hotel windows, Christmas trees purchased at the last minute, holes dug and fences put up, broken water pipes and surprise gifts from strangers; ER visits; tears (from a child) over the sell of an old couch. And, of course, goats tied to mailboxes.
It all makes me rather nervous and extremely excited to contemplate what stories there will be to tell in 13 more years of life together -- what things we will learn and overcome, what people we will meet, and what moments, yet to have happened, we will look back on and laugh about. Daisy, of course, would be hoping that one of those stories includes a bunny tied to our mailbox (and with no owner to claim it), but I suppose we can’t know yet. We can simply dig in – take the bull by the horns (or goat by the chewed through rope as the case may be) -- and go about living!