At first, I was able to distract Bow on the days when going outside was not possible by finding things to do indoors, such as trying on one of his new socks.
But that sort of activity can keep him occupied for only so long, and soon he gets bored again. Outside, everything has been constantly covered in snow, and often too cold to venture out.
Periods of thawing were followed quickly by new snowfall.
The pasture was snowed over.
Sometimes we could hear birds chirping, and once I thought I saw a rabbit, but only found its tracks when I went to investigate.
Meanwhile, Bow became less and less patient with this continuing winter weather.
He often asked to go outside, only to decide at the last moment that he didn't want to go outside after all. Displays that should have taken place outdoors ended up taking place indoors to the great annoyance of all concerned. Bow can be really loud!
And in general, he just has been complaining a lot. Not verbally. But when he is bored, he sits and rocks back and forth and makes raspberries, and I can't get anything done at all until I find some way to make him happy again.
"What do you want, Bow?" I ask him. And whatever he asks for, I give him. I expect answers such as "Give me my blanket" or "I want an apple." But what if he doesn't actually want anything that specific and concrete?
The other day, a couple of days ago, we had this "What do you want?" conversation multiple times without Bow ever being satisfied. He asked for the blanket. I gave him the blanket. Two seconds later he was rocking back and forth and making raspberry sounds again. "What do you want?"
He handed me the blanket and points for me to take it away. I took it away, and in no time at all he was rocking back and forth and complaining loudly with his raspberries. I came back in, and he told me he wanted the blanket, I brought the blanket back in, and again he was not happy. Finally I turned to him and asked really pointedly: "Bow, what do you want? I can give you anything, just tell me what it is. But you have to tell me..."
קשת אוהב את אמא he spells. "Bow loves mommy."
This was in answer to "What do you want?" So I figured I had better stay in the pen with him, in case he wanted to hug me. I sat down on the floor beside him. "You love me, huh?"
He reached for my hand, turned his back on me and then showed me where he wanted his back scratched. He didn't love me: he wanted me to love him! I spent a good long time scratching his back. And Bow was satisfied.
Reciprocity does not come naturally to me. But Bow is a good teacher of the "You scratch my back, I'll scratch yours" school of life. If only I had known this years ago! I always wondered what other people wanted when they wouldn't say. The answer is obvious now.
The other day someone on Facebook asked me whether I am an empath. He noticed I posted a lot of pictures of animals and plants and nature, and he thought I was empathetic. "Do you talk to animals?" he asked me.
"I live with a chimpanzee, and I talk to him. And he talks back," I answered. "But I am an not an empath."
"Can you tell when he is happy or sad?"
Oh, my. You don't need to be an empath to tell when Bow is happy or sad. Anyone can tell just because he is so good at communicating that non-verbally, but very loudly!
I am in fact quite possibly the closest thing to a non-empath that there is on earth. I need things spelled out for me that other people pick up on instinctively. For instance, most people know, but I have just recently learned, that when someone says "I love you," they don't mean that they love you. What they actually mean is: "Please love me!"
It took a very long acquaintance with a chimpanzee who can spell for me to learn this simple lesson.