Tuesday, April 21, 2009


I have always had a thing for sheep. How well I remember the perfectly delicious feeling of having a chubby white ewe take treats from my little flattened palm under a cavernous tent at the state fair when I was a child. What a treat it was to enjoy a personal encounter with an animal that I had only met on the pages of story books. I have sat amused in my car on isolated, one-lane tracks in Scotland, patiently waiting for the flock of woolly wanderers gazing in my windows to deem me worthy of passage by moving out from the center of the road. And once, I sat on a windy hill by the sea and watched in fascination as a flock of sheep suddenly turned from the hillside and began to make their way, single-file and sure, out to the steep, winding road, over a small stone wall, and down to the beach below.
What an enchanting sight to see.... sheep enjoying a day out at the beach.

Maybe it is my new found love of knitting that has caused me to appreciate these remarkable creatures anew. I walk into my favourite knitting shop and stand there happily tempted by the myriad of colour and variety of texture they are capable of producing. Shall I choose Black Welsh or Jacob? Suffolk or Bluefaced Leister? I feel in partnership with them somehow, as together we team up to create such lovely things and Lord knows, I could not do it without them. Knitting is such a tactile activity, and as I sit for hours watching as a simple ball of delicate wool is transformed under my own ten fingers, I cannot help but wonder about the sturdy hillside fellow that sent it my way.

There are those who say the only thing that exists inside the mind of the sheep is a dial tone. But I don’t believe it for a minute. Especially after reading this truly wonderful new book by Leonie Swann. It is entitled
Three Bags Full and I most highly recommend it, even for those who might not be as besotted with sheep as I. It is the story of a certain flock of sheep who were read to every evening by their shepherd and consequently developed a higher, albeit quirky, intelligence than might otherwise have been afforded them. When their shepherd is murdered...in the first few pages...they take it upon themselves to solve the crime. Witty, original, and delightfully sheepy, I looked forward to my time spent inside its covers and I would be the first in line to purchase a sequel if one appeared.