We sat in the golden sunlight for an hour just simply taking tea and listening to the musicians playing some of their newer folk tunes. Even the donkeys sat at th edge of the river under the shade and happily watched Tarran and Drew and Annie May take turns on the < href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treadle_pump"> treadle pump. Our own littlest climate refugee and self reliance student Annie May had become thick as thieves with two of the Wests best Donkey Wizard.
While Tarran took his turn Annie May combed out Drew's hair. He was part Chin Chinese and part Celt so his hair has pixie nests. "HOld still HOLD STILL!" she commanded him with the severe shrill voice of her old life.
Drew turned to her slightly and raised one eyebrow. For a small girl with a tight bun and a flower shirt she had a very stern look like a young male tabla player would. She met his gaze head on and said first firmly "I don't wan ta hurt you".
She then softened her gaze and kind of giggled to herself and glanced at Tarran "I am scared that I will hurt you" she said "thats why I yelled at you Drew". Drews gaze immediately softened.
Tarran smiled under his chestnut bun of hair and long lashed green eyes. They flashed each other a silent smile of recognition at what an accomplishment this admission was. We all sat silent and golden as we each in turn hummed inside with the sense that Annie May had found her place. These were the hard lessons when one of the kids had asked to take refuge among us. It would take months for the new family system to take over completely more or less. Someday soon she might even be interested in coming up to the daily school sessions that we still enjoy and encourage the children to partake of. For now she was all about becoming on of the few female donkey wizards and the only one under ten.
On the road above us you could hear the soft sound of a few Q drums moving from the storage tanks off towards Pville. A dog barked making a happy playful sound. Kids bringing home water for their household from the spring above us.
Annie May had carefully combed her way through half of Drew's hair and it looked a little funny. On one side he looked like a regular hard living wizard and on the other he looked soft and smooth as a woman with shiny black hair. Drew made faces and hindered Annie May's progress by making her dissolve in giggles. Across the smooth stones on the river bar I could see my dear pal Asha carrying a teapot and a basket of ware. Earlier we has tested this section of the river aquefier with our portable microbiology laboratory and it was good news. It was decades since we had both developed the habit of taking tea together, and I was sure she had tucked something delicious into the basket for us from the oven baked the day before.
Drew listened intently while Annie May whispered something into his ear. He was gooning and goofing and making these extremely fun and funny faces...pinching up his lips and making his eyes really wide. he nodded very dramatically and hopped onto his feet. From the waist down he bowed very formally and dramatically; "Madame I would love to escort you to the latrine" he said very formally. Annie May grapped his hand with a cheshire grin and ran while he walked briskly to the nearest Domed Pit Latrine. We had installed them at each garden and of course each of the four sets of houses (red, yellow, green and now blue). There was no reason for us to take chances with the river.
Somehow the sound of the river moving slowly in the channel matched with Tarran as he worked the treadle. He was a very gifted musician and he could live with us simply playing tunes for six or seven hours a day helping the workload flow. In addition he was a gifted shoe tailor and tackle maker which is why he was one of the very top Donkey Wizards. This was his choice this addition of duties. He had a real genuine affection for the animals and they were well aware of it.
It was not neccesary for me to ask him what he thought of keeping care of Annie May. The evening before he had packed her onto his modifiedBig Boda and rode with her into Miranda proper to get an ice cream sandwich for them to share. They had the first stage look of a small family unit: they walked like each other and moved their heads at the same time in unison of angle and tone. It was an interesting combination because she was a somewhat mannish looking small child and he is a somewhat feminine looking man in his late thirties. Well maybe he is over forty now. I noticed also that Drew is getting quite a lot of grey hair keeping his end of the golden trail open.
Whiskey and Martin, two of the lead male donkeys were shaking their heads under the trees. In honour of their status as our new stud service Jed had tied their harnessess with some old sets of Afghani Camel Bells. I could tell that Asha was delighted to hear the familiar sound...until the donkeys started braying at each other loudly and tossingtheir heads wildly.
"HEEEE Haw...HEEEE HAAAW" they were baring their teeth and tossing the brim of their silly hats. The bells were clanging and tinkling. Asha was covering her ears at the same time as we were both laughing. Tarran had to yell over us "settle!" and again "settle!" for the two donkeys to yell just so we didnt feel the need to cover our ears. They really liked that Annie May she was determined to be a donkey Wizard and they were determined to make her one.