Donkey Milk

In the depths of the bathroom cupboard, was a familiar bottle. The lavender-scented body lotion bought while visiting France five years ago had slipped behind other toiletry supplies. The principle of ‘out of sight means out of mind’ certainly pertained here. Planning to use the lotion only on special occasions, other tall bottles had slowly obscured the container.

Lifting the bottle out of the dark recesses of the cupboard, I admired the pretty sprays of lavender that decorated its label. Why was I so stingy with the lotion? It needed to be used up before it dried up. My daughter Tammie and I are planning another international trip this year, so who knows what items I’ll be bringing home with me this time?

As I gently spread the creamy lotion on my legs, I futilely sniffed, hoping to detect its flowery scent. Unlike orange peels and crushed basil leaves, which my olfactory receptors pick up very well, lavender isn’t a scent I can enjoy. Placing the bottle on the counter, I reflected, “Not being able to smell it, surely contributed to my forgetting about the lotion!”

When I talked to Tammie later that day I asked, “Do you remember the long bus trip we took while in France?”

Shaking her head disapprovingly, Tammie answered, “I surely do! The French rail workers were on strike, so we couldn’t take the speed train from Paris to Lourdes. What could have taken only a few hours, turned into our spending an entire day on a bus.”

I agreed, “That was unpleasant but halfway through the day we stopped at a small strip mall. One of the stores sold nothing but locally supplied, farm-grown items, like wine, rapeseed oil, olives, wool, and products made with lavender. I bought wool slippers and a bottle of lavender-scented lotion. I used some of the lotion today. Did you know it was made using donkey milk?”

Chuckling, Tammie admitted, “I’d forgotten about that but it makes sense. They do things differently in France.”

Shrugging I questioned, “Is donkey milk any different than goat milk? I’ve often seen specialty bars of soap made using goat milk in American stores.”

“That’s true,” My daughter agreed, “but goats are more common around here. I seldom see donkeys and have certainly never heard of farmers in Central Wisconsin milking a herd of them!”

I shared with a smile, “Your Grandpa Jacob loved goats. We had six to eight goats for several years. I grew up drinking fresh goat milk. I have fond memories of playing with the little kids. I wish I could see a fully functioning European farm while we are visiting Europe this time.”

Tammie showed me her phone and said, “Look at these pictures. Here’s a bed and breakfast we could stay at. It has a small private patio to go along with the room. I’m looking for a place that has a kitchenette so we could visit local markets and make a few light meals.”

I excitedly confessed, “I’d like that. Eating out isn’t fun when every single meal for a week and a half is from a restaurant. I’m also glad we won’t be moving from city to city as often on this trip. I like the idea of staying in one place for a while and being able to take a closer look at what their everyday life is like.”

My daughter asked, “Do you plan to buy many souvenirs on this trip?” With a big grin on her face, Tammie pointed out, “We’ll need less money if you don’t buy fancy donkey milk body lotion.”

I crossed my fingers and quickly responded, “Well, I really shouldn’t but if I see something I like… Keep reminding me, the best souvenirs are our memories.  How much money do you think we should take with us? I don’t want to run out and be unable to eat the last few days.”


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