Recently I discovered a simple pleasure. Taking a break inside my donkey barn after evening feeding, with my donkeys and goats gathered around me eating, I sat for a moment to watch a brilliant watermellon-red sky paint a New Mexico sunset as dusk settled over the high desert. I found myself listening to the melody of my animals’ chewing.
The music of my animals eating is a gentle sound, a rhythmic sound, a sound of simple pleasure. What was unexpected by this city boy was that hearing sounds of animal food bliss is a simple pleasure for humans too.
My animals know ’slow food’ without knowing theory or the European practice. They never hurry. They will sometimes push and shove for position, but they never gulp or rush; they actually appear to savor.
What struck me about this ‘music of mastication’ is its simplicity. My animals’ Song of Satisfaction does not require what is expensive or elaborate; they chew in rhythmic peace and audible contentment, enthralled by rations simple as grass.
I could do well to learn their simple Song of Satisfaction. After all, what is revealed about a culture where the annual holiday set aside for thanksgiving is followed the next day by national frenzied greed on Black Friday? Do we really need more stuff to be satisfied, to be content, to sing a Song of Satisfaction?
Truth is, we’ve never had so much, so many things, nor have we as a people ever been less content.
Back to what is simple, basic, and real … that’s what my animals are teaching me. Life’s profoundest pleasures do not require what is elaborate or expensive. I found one in a donkey shed under a watermellon sunset sky listening to a ’song’ all but forgotten in our acquisitive age.
I highly recommend it: listen to contented animals chew and if you listen from an open heart you will hear in their music of mastication a quiet song, a prayer song, a Song of Satisfaction.
Joseph Harvill, publisher Great Scots Magazine