What the Burros Taught Me, Part II

How can you not want to pet this guy?

If you’re one of those charming, organized folks who prefers to read “Part Ones” before “Part Twos,” have no fear. My first burro post is right here. Enjoy!


My wife, Ellen, thinks she is The Burro Whisperer. She came to this conclusion largely because of Burrito, a denizen of an area petting zoo, who trots over to her every time she shows up and grunts with delight when she pets his nose.

Need more evidence? Fine. She also sleeps with a stuffed Eeyore. Case closed.

The problem with Ellen’s reasoning is that Burrito will trot over to anyone for nose pets and, well, Eeyore is a doll.

But that’s neither here nor there. When we visit burros that are not Burrito, Ellen (who, it should be said, is smarter than me on most other matters) has a difficult time grasping that all burros are not exactly the same.

This was brought into focus on a recent trip to Intercourse, Pennsylvania (which is just one of the many towns in Lancaster County with a sort-of-pervy name), at a place called Kitchen Kettle Village (which is a tourist shopping Mecca that sells everything you could ever possibly want – provided that everything you want is jam).

Kitchen Kettle Village also has a tiny petting zoo that no one ever visits. Petting animals, I guess, distracts from all of that jam-buying.

I kid you not.

The zoo has a burro, so Ellen was on cloud nine. She leaned over the fence to get his attention. She “hello-ed” and knocked on the split rail fence posts.

Mr. Burro, however, wanted none of this. He sat in the center of his pen and made a pretty good show of ignoring her. He positioned his ample burro butt in her direction and stared at a wall. The only thing he could’ve done to make his wishes more obvious was to bury his nose behind a newspaper.

Ellen, however, wasn’t getting the message. She redoubled her efforts, knocking louder and faster and switching from “hellos” to more urgent “yoo-hoos.” Alex, our six-year-old, and I were too busy introducing ourselves to a group of personable goats to notice what Ellen was doing at first, but her doggedness soon became hard to ignore.

Alex played the role of diplomat. “Momma,” he said. “I don’t think he wants to be pet.”

I was less diplomatic. “Geeze, Ellen. Knock it off. Can’t you see he wants to be left alone?”

But then, as if to prove me wrong, Mr. Burro stood up, stretched a moment, and sauntered toward her.

Ellen was flush with triumph. She shot me a look. I was familiar with this look. It was a look that said, “See? You don’t know what the hell you’re talking about. As usual. But go ahead and keep talking. No, no, go ahead. I’m listening. I’ll listen while I pet this burro that doesn’t want to be pet.”

The burro approached the fence. He batted his eyelashes. Ellen was smitten. It looked like they were going to be fast friends.

Then, as Ellen reached into the pen to pet his nose, Mr. Burro lunged out in an attempt to bite hers off.

I’m pleased to report that Ellen has good reflexes. She lurched away just in time and her nose is where it’s always been. Which is good, to say the least.

You shoulda seen the look on your face when I tried to bite ya. Wooo!

What’s also good is that, for the second time in my life, a burro had gotten my creative juices flowing. After a lot of laughs and almost as many rewrites, this past week I sent out a new (Ellen-approved) picture book manuscript that is “inspired by actual events.” Momma No-Nose is the touching story of a mother who, with the help of an artistic son and a Play-Doh proboscis, learns to live life again after a startling petting zoo assault.

There are two lessons to be taken from this story, I think. The first is don’t pester the burros; when their dander is up they can be ruthless killing machines.

The second and far more important lesson is, inspiration is everywhere. So go out and get some!

Do you have an inspiration story you’d like to share? Then write me a comment! I do so love your comments.


Oh, and if you’re one of those devil-may-care nonconformist folks who prefers to read “Part Twos” before “Part Ones,” you’re in luck. My first burro post is right here. Enjoy!

35 Replies to “What the Burros Taught Me, Part II”

  1. From the mouths of babes…my toddler wanted to know how pearls got out of oysters, so I made up a PETA-approved story about how they hiccupped and burped out the pearls. The PB version is still in draft form, as the MC still does not have enough ‘want’ to merit his own book.

    For poor Ellen – I think that burro was just having a PMS kind of day. 🙂

  2. Well after your cruel comments about seagulls on my latest post, I’m not going to read part one, no siree, I didn’t read it before I read part two, and I’m not going to read it after, so ha!

    I MAY admit to having been SLIGHTLY entertained by this part two story, and under different circumstances I MAY have gone to read part one, but….well…damn it, I can’t do it! I must read part one right away…

    1. Perhaps I was cruel. (Although I would like to clarify that I am not so much anti-seagull as I am pro-most-everything-else.)

      And I am delighted that you have forgiven me enough to read a couple of my burro tales. You are clearly a good person.

      So I will make amends. Tell you what I’ll do: The next time you blog about the virtues of an animal — any animal at all — I will be pro-that-animal. I will sing its praises! I will condemn those who disagree! I will be that thing’s biggest fan! Try me!

  3. Having just endured a nine-day adventure with a squirrel, who chose to live in my home without first seeking my approval, I fear that I am in no state-of-mind to challenge Ellen’s love of burros. Until this onslaught, I regularly fed all those cute little squirrels romping in my yard and actually thought they were adorable – – funny how things can change. There will be no more delicious food treats thrown from my back door Mr. Squirrel……try the Stop & Shop!

    1. I love squirrels — but that’s probably because they’ve never squatted in my house. If one did, I might have to buy a shotgun and start referring to them as “varmints.”

      Burros do hold an advantage over squirrels in this regard; burros rarely — if ever — nest in people’s attics.

      Good luck with cleaning up the mess!

  4. This is one of the funniest things I have read in quite a few weeks. Thank you. Also, you’re right, inspiration is everywhere. People watching….burro watching…whatever…can be great for the imagination!

  5. Uplifting and inspiring! If I wouldn’t have come to this blog I would have never known that I now want to retire in Intercourse, Pennsylvania, dress up like the Eeyore character and hang out at the petty zoo (making sure not to go anywhere NEAR the burro) while eating jam morning noon and night! And congratulations on your Close But No Cigar Award! 😀

    1. Thanks, Linda, but I’m much prouder of my book advance. 🙂

      Lancaster County is full of such questionable town names, by the way. If you need a laugh or three, just get yourself a map and see.

  6. I can totaly sympathize with your wife. I like to think I’m in tune with nature everywhere, a la, Sleeping Beauty or other Disney princesses who sing in meadows to the delight of woodland creatures near and far. Alas, it’s not always so.

    I’m glad Ellen left with her nose intact! 😉

  7. For some reason, I first read burro as “barrios.” So I thought this would be about life in the tough barrios in Brazil. (Reading on the internet makes me skim words very fast. It’s strange).
    Happy to read about burros instead. 🙂 Stubborn fellows. Glad to hear Ellen’s nose is still where it should be.

  8. You continue to crack me up, Mike 🙂 And the other moral is that, probably also for the second time in your life you turned out to be right! lol That’s a running joke with my boyfriend about him only having been right only maybe a few times in our relationship. He makes SUCH a show out of it when I say it lol But I can’t help it that I’m right about him usually being wrong! 😉

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