Thursday, September 18, 2008

Sheep Walking

I called this post sheep walking because it captured a cluster of ideas. Sheep walking might be walking with sheep. I once had a flock of renegades follow me for about half a mile. Like Mary, I had no idea what to do with them and they eventually went home on their own.

It might also be walking a sheep as in trotting around the ring at the County show in a white jacket and a staff competing for a prize.

It might be walking where only sheep have created a path as they follow each other single file up a hill. I have done this at the Yarrows site scrambling up a hill to see a broch or at Dunnet or Portskerra to take a photo of the places that usually only sheep can see.

It might also be walking like sheep--not necessarily on all fours but for the simple pleasures of life--good green grass, conversation with another sheep, or running away from an errant sheep walker.

As I walked along the road to Strathy Point lighthouse, I ambled among the sheep. They paid no attention to me unless I got within an arm's reach of them. If they had known how slow I am, they would not have bothered even with that little skitter. You have to be fast to keep up with a sheep. I recently watched with considerable respect a young woman monitoring her sheep around the ring at the local auction. Faster than thought--mine or the sheep's--she moved to intercede or to redirect them. I'll never be that kind of sheep walker.

Today I was walking among the sheep. Along the walk to Strathy Point, sheep and rocks predominate. I had been thinking too much and wanted to enjoy the sun struggling between coming out from behind the clouds and falling below the horizon to make the dark blue horizon line that seems a likely boundary for the end of the earth. I needed some un-thinking time beneath the broad blue horizon so I walked alone imagining how lonely it must have been when Strathy Point lighthouse, the last lighthouse built in the UK was created. All the lighthouses now are automated, but when it was created it was home for someone. A bonny spot, but certainly a lonely one.

As I was heading back to the car, I encountered a group walking to the lighthouse. I greeted them and prepared to keep ambling when one broke from the group and came up suddenly asking in the accent of the middle of England,"Was it worth it?" I was startled and not interested in assessing what the walk might be worth to someone else. I smiled, shrugged and said "It was for me," which is all we can honestly ever say.
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At 1:23 PM, Anonymous ampiggy said...

How obedient the sheep look as they file along in a straight line. It sounds as if they're unruly and obedient at the same time.

At 3:24 PM, Blogger landgirl said...

I like your take on sheep. I like to think of them as wilful but pragmatic, but yup exactly the same idea.


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