People often seem to have a triangle of interests. In my case, two tellable, one not.
Number one: sheep herding
Have any of you seen sheep herding trials on TV? How about in real life? You're toodling down the hedge-lined back roads of Scotland or Ireland and you almost don't see the handwritten sign 'Sheep Trials Today.'
My mother and I screech to a halt, back up, and there, in a nondescript ﬁeld with a few pens and panels are these border collies running sheep in complicated patterns in response to the few words or whistles of their gruff, dur, rain-geared masters. No fuss, no muss. A great way to spend a Sunday. And no one seemed to have come without the makings for tea in their boot. China cups, no thermal foreigners.
Everything about sheep herding is logical. I suspect pool players would really enjoy sheep herding. It is logical, mathematical, orderly and unpredictable. If you want sheep to go here, dog puts pressure there. But there is a fence which sheep will also be responding to in the shape of their ﬂight zone, so adjust angle by four degrees. And the dogs can do it ﬁne all by themselves unless there is a task they cannot surmise. As a matter of fact, one woman said that it was a typical sight to be walking home after school and see the dogs running by on their way to get the sheep. How cool is that? There are myriad stories of shepherds. Shepherds and stars, shepherd-kings, shepherds and their faithful friends. Faithful to the end. and then some.
Do you know the story of Greyfriars Bobby who slept on his master's grave until he himself went on to greener pastures?
In Ontario, where I grew up, most farms had Border Collies, mostly called Betsy. Happy generations of Betsies. Betsy Betsy Betsy. Though I believe every dog in the world is the best doggie in the whole world, I do have a particular fondness for Border Collies. Are they 'in the air'? A lot of people seem to be talking about them.
Unmassing the Amass
Everything in my life for the past six years has been about lightening my trappings, making myself more available to the Greater, unmassing what I had amassed. When I cleared the deck big-time in 2006, divesting of almost everything, I also changed my name, which was very interesting. More about that later if you like.
So, imagine my consternation ﬁnding myself with a puppy snuggled into my touring coat, deep in the Welsh countryside. Magic had prevailed in spite of my muscular disassembling mechanism.
This is why sheep herding is one point on my triangle of interests.
My mother and I stood listening at my ﬁrst lesson. In a ring. With sheep. The teacher spoke in such a way that when she paused, my mother quietly said "I wish I had known this before I had children." "Mom!" I said, shocked. Then, seeing her tears, I squeezed her hand. The lesson continued, now about ﬂight zones and pressure.
Metaphors in the Mundane
Have you ever been learning something seemingly mundane and then realized it was a profound
metaphor for something else in your life?
Here is an example:
Lost in the Wilderness
My friend Sandy got lost in a northern Ontario forest. With her knitting bag. As she followed the deer trails, which begat more deer trails, and "hey-didn't-I-just...?", she laughed. In fact, "Not worried at all!" she began hyperventilating. Interrupted by the cawing of crows overhead, she calmly made a strategy, cried, did Lamaze, knitted a few rows, remembered to walk in a straight line in heavy bush, noticed sun's direction, listened for waves, sobbed against a tree-trunk, became business-like, forged onwards, shrieked when a branch tapped her shoulder, laughed in an encouraging way to herself and then almost bowled over someone barbequeing steaks in their backyard. In her other life, she is ﬁnding her inimitably adventurous way through the forest of stage four cancer. So, that's Sandy and metaphors in the mundane.
Now I want to tell you about this remarkable, feisty Irishman who has been teaching shepherding in Canada and how I twisted my knee during a sheep stampede. But I'm out of space so...
Until next time, universe willing.
Your faithful reporter,