These are, in one sense, Brays o' four lives. There was my first, at the feet of my mother. Her name is lost in the mists of time, or maybe I never knew it: I was hers before I had language. She was beautiful, I'm sure. This first life began in Ohio, where they named me Buckeye and trained me to carry a rider and a pack saddle.
There was my second life, with an elk hunter who brought me to Washington State for the pursuit of antlered ungulates. FarmWife spoke on the phone with him once, and he told her that I was a good mule. That I could carry a 330 pound rider and half an elk (no wonder my hock went kablooey!). That I loved Pop Tarts and Snickers bars. That I was special. I learned, in this second life, to fear lines on the road and to stand unflinching beneath the thunder of guns.
There was my third life, with Uncle Jim from down the road. He brought me to Wickersham and introduced me to Leisure, which is something I plan to enjoy for the rest of my many splendiferous and precious years. He put me in the pasture abutting FarmWife's pasture and gave occasion for FarmWife to meet me. He was kind enough, eventually, to sell me hither.
My fourth life, here, is the subject of these remaining Brays. This will be my final life (may it be long!), unless by some miracle there is a great golden pasture beyond the knowable—a pasture where, perchance, my mother and FarmWife might one day meet.