May 1, 2016
I am tucked into bed with an empty tea cup and an aching back. I am talking with Char about her awful cold, her last paper, her soon-to-come departure from campus and back home to the farm. The “ka-ching!” of an Etsy order plays over the phone while we are talking so I look it up while she predicts a sheep-pincushion sale. It’s not. It is an order for some alpaca/mohair/Shetland yarn – “Milk” & “Tea” for a knitter in Connecticut.
I take myself down to the basement to find my envelopes and tissue paper and then find the merchandise, wrap and label the package and decide on another cup of tea. And strawberries, because if I don’t eat them up, they will go bad. And chocolate, because I have some and it goes well with strawberries. Also, Char had planted the notion of strawberries and chocolate into my mind when she told me about her Choral banquet earlier that week. The power of suggestion. On a tired mind, it is strong.
At the end of a full week, a full weekend of hosting a garage sale and visitors and hauling, shoveling, mucking and wrangling animals, my back and knees are fragile and crunchy. I feel I deserve a celebration of the week’s work and of April’s lambs and reaching May after a long season of grey and cold.
In the kitchen I am able to peer out through the dusk and see the sheep all collected in a corner of the field. I hear a lot of baah-ing. I set my knife down where I was washing and trimming strawberries and I go to the door. I peer further and can’t make out what I’m looking at.
After stepping outside I see that the donkeys are in, yes, but there might be sheep outside of the pasture. The mamas are baah-ing from the barn, too and I can see on my Lamb-Cam, the camera in the barn, that Laurel & Martha are curious and looking down the chute where the Boy Band has piled up.
The seas part and the Boy Band recedes a bit, beginning a game of popcorn in the field where they take turns gamboling about and leap-frogging diagonally across, launching off the rocks and scrambling around in figure-eights. I see now why they were all baah-ing, though. There is one lone sheep in the chute that runs the distance of the three adjoining pastures.
Somehow the little tucker got himself through the gate and into the chute to eat the grass growing in the path and now can’t figure on how to get back in with the flock. He travels up and down the chute and baahs, inciting a call and response from his brethren. And sisters, too.
What to do? Shall I put my pajama’ed self into my overalls and overcoat, slip my boots onto my bare(and clean) feet so that I can go out into the dim light and collect up that little guy? I think that it’s David. Because he’s small. Yes. I think he is the one that can fit through the gate slats and get himself into such a predicament.
Or should I take myself to bed with my tea and strawberries and good book?
It’s the First of May. I forgot to wash my face with dew so as to ensure I would be lovely all the year long. Reminded of that by my daughter. Reminded of that by my mirror, for when I looked at it, I felt surprised and alarmed at my age.
I forgot to pick a bouquet, something my mother taught me and then I taught my children all to do for May Day, to be delivered to friends and neighbors on their doorstop with a knock and a dash to hide around the corner.
I spent nearly the entire day in the cold & rain, not working as hard as I like to stay warm, instead dividing my time between the slow garage sale I was manning and small tasks about the perimeter. Thirty years’ worth of household goods, for sale for a song or for free if you’d take it, preventing me from making any real progress in the raking and mucking required in the barnyard.
I forgot to have a good meal. I picked, and drank coffee, which didn’t serve me well at chore time this evening. I hit a wall with an energy-low and quit early, not feeling up to making dinner.
The baah-ing quieted somewhat. An occasional bleat now.
I made a deal with myself. I’d have my tea and then I’d bundle up and go put that little David back where he belonged. He could last half an hour more in his predicament. Maybe he’d find himself back in the pasture as accidentally as he’d found himself out of it?
My angry back grumbled while I put socks on and then again when I stuffed my feet into my big, black muck boots. I threw my coat on over my pajamas and pulled my warm, wool hat over my head. My hat and my boots are my power-suit. My overalls, too, but I decided that we could do this thing without them tonight. Cricket and I quietly slipped out into the dark and made our way to the pasture with a flashlight.
At first the flock didn’t hear us. Their bells tinkled only slightly so I knew they were nestled for the most part. Then they heard my footsteps and noticed my light and got to their feet. The bells giggled and tittered and then the boys began to baah. I spoke to them then, “it’s o.k.. It’s just mom. I’m just checking to see who is lost and who is found. Are you all here?”
I climbed over the fence and cursed a little about the rain because I didn’t feel like changing again when I got back inside. But if I’d put on my overalls I wouldn’t have had to, so there was that. I walked up and down the chute, clumsily as I couldn’t see the holes I was stepping in, the little goat paths, the occasional slippery rock. I finally satisfied myself that the problem had corrected itself and went back to the pasture. I shined my light over them all and counted heads, checking for David, checking for Nigel & Neville & Laird – the four smallest wethers.
Everyone was accounted for and the only baah-ing was because of their excitement to see me. “Go back to sleep,” I told them.
Cricket caught up to me as I made my way back through the dark yard and into the house. Tired pup. He climbed up onto the couch and then I hung my coat and climbed up the stairs one more time, hopefully, for the first of May.