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Thursday, March 21, 2013

The First Day of Spring

Yesterday was the first day of spring. It snowed a little in the morning, but that did not last long.

Lawrence came by as usual, because it was Wednesday. But because he had seen him as recently as Monday, Bow did not display at him. Instead, he was calm and happy to see Lawrence, and Lawrence was able to go in with him immediately.

While this is not in the nature of a great scientific discovery about chimpanzees, and it ought to be well known to anyone who has ever worked with a chimpanzee, it is still worth repeating: to do well with Bow, you need consistent and frequent contact. The absence of a day is not a big problem, but if you are away for a week, you are already a bit of a stranger. That's why people who used to have good relationships with a chimpanzee but went away for a prolonged period of time cannot come back and expect to be greeted with open arms. I believe a lot of tragedies could be averted if everyone were aware of this fact.

The human attitude toward time, distance and strangers has changed a lot since prehistoric times. But we would all do well to realize that long absences do change relationships and that absence does not, in most cases, make the heart grow fonder.

In the afternoon,  Sword and her friend came over to study French and then go to their music lesson together, and Bow got to have a nice chat with Sword's friend. He was calm, well-behaved and happy as he greeted her.

Wednesdays are my days off so that I can accompany Sword and her friend to their lesson. It is always a treat for me to visit the Dabney Farm, which I honestly feel is a magical place. Yesterday, as we drove up, we saw Trixie, the milk cow, grazing peacefully in the front yard.

I stopped to take some pictures. There was an American flag on the front balcony, and in the yard the cow was grazing. It was such a pretty sight.

When we all came in the front door, Jill Dabney, the music teacher, greeted us with this question: "Did you see our lawn mower?" At first, I was confused, for I had seen a cow, but not a lawn mower. Then I realized that she meant Trixie. As the girls started their vocal warm up exercises, I went up front to get a closer look at the lawn mower.

Wouldn't it be great to have a lawn mower who not only cuts your grass down short, but also converts what she has eaten into milk?

Later during the music lesson, Jill noticed that Trixie had come up to the door. Jill went out and asked her: "Have you had enough? Do you want to go back?" And the cow mooed an assent.

"We have an arrangement," Jill explained to me. "Trixie is free to walk around and graze all she wants, and when she is done she goes back and feeds the calf."

But the animals are not the only  magic I observed at the Dabney Farm yesterday. Even their flag seems to furl and unfurl in response to the music!

When I came home to relieve Lawrence, Bow was happy and content, and I was thoroughly refreshed.