Moonbeam and Augustus ~ Part Two
I couldn't believe these two, Moonbeam and Augustus. They chatted incessantly during this, our first day on the trail to the Gypsy camp. So much of their chatter was nonsense. They were just like a couple of playful school kids.
We left early this morning when the dew was still fresh on the ground and the cobwebs that stretched across the grass and shrubs sparkled like jewels. The sun rose slowly burning off the magical mistiness of the sky. God beams filtered through the trees as if lighting our way.
Augustus, the bigger of the two donkeys, insisted that he should bear the burden of my riding while Moonbeam carried my few belonging as well as food for all three of us.
Augustus flicked one of his big ears and then another as he pointed out interesting details along the trail. He stopped to show me some colorfully capped mushrooms. "They look lovely," I said, "but I'd be afraid to eat one because I don't know which are poisonous and which are not."
"Good," he said, shaking his head up and down, and before I could stop him, he ate one, just to show me that they were safe. Moonbeam nodded, too, and I understood that they wanted me to gather some for a later meal.
I dismounted, pulled a plastic container from my saddle bags and gathered the multicolored mushrooms. I was still not sure, but what did I know? Everything was different in this magical land, and besides, Augustus had eaten one.
"I'm still standing," he said, having read my doubts.
"Yes, indeed you are."
"You can trust Augustus," Moonbeam said. "He is wise beyond his years."
And if his ears can be compared to his years, I thought, he is truly wise.
"Don't go there," Moonbeam, said, "He is hurt easily, especially when people tease him about his ears."
"I wasn't teasing … I was thinking a compliment."
I wondered how I came to be in these magical woods with a wise old donkey whose feeling were easily hurt, and a flying donkey who could read my mind.
"Augustus can fly, too," Moonbeam said, "and although he doesn't like to, he will if he has to..."
"Why doesn't he like to?"
"He's afraid of heights, poor fellow, and it is quite a strain on him, you know."
Augustus and I both nodded. "Then we had better press on and make sure he doesn't have to resort to the heights."
We pressed on, but soon stopped when one of Augustus' ears zeroed in on a patch of wild pansies. "For lunch," he said.
"He wants you to gather some," Moonbeam said, "they go good with mushrooms and besides it's past lunch time."
I glanced at my watch. It was way past lunchtime, almost dinner time. Besides the clearing was a perfect spot to bed down for the night. I relieved Augustus of my weight and Moonbeam of the saddle bags before gathering some of the biggest pansies.
I cleaned the mushrooms and soon had a tiny cook fire burning. I took the small skillet I carried and added a few drops of olive oil from my supplies. When the pan was hot, I added the mushrooms and cooked them, mainly in their own juice. When they were done to perfection, I sprinkled the pansies over them and split the meal three ways, adding some donkey food for Moonbeam and Augustus. After all, they were the working members of this little expedition … I just rode, admired the scenery, and contemplated eating mushrooms gathered from the trailside.
I spread my sleeping bag at the base of a tall and ancient oak. The donkeys bedded down nearby. Just as I was drifting off to sleep, the full moon appeared in the east in all her glory … and to the west, lightning danced in the sky. The moon was huge and the lightning so spectacular that I wondered if, after eating the mushrooms, I was hallucinating and if I would awaken in the morning. I wasn't worried though because Augustus in all his wisdom had assured me I would.
©October 18, 2005