The Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival was last weekend. It's an occasion for joyous overwhelm, with tens of thousands of people within one single fairground. Fibers and textures and colors are everywhere. And people. At a certain point, wool blindness takes over and it's simply not possible to see anything clearly anymore. That's when I escape into the sheep barns.
This year I met and fell in love with a certain Lincoln yearling ram. Once his buddies realized I did not come bearing edible gifts, they lost interest. But this guy couldn't get enough love.
As a rule, sheep don't like to be confined in small spaces. They also don't like change, and they certainly don't take great comfort in being suddenly surrounded by crowds of people and other strange sheep. Which is to say that most sheep at these shows are pretty freaked out.
But this guy, for whatever reason, decided I was safe. Even the sweet young redhead responsible for his well-being was a little surprised. "They haven't even been worked with yet," she said, shaking her head. She went off to help her friend in the ring, and I remained.
The more I rubbed his cheek, the more I could feel him relaxing and calming down. So there I stood, rubbing his cheek, feeling those warm puffs of sheep breath on my hand, in what can only be described as a moment. That lasted many moments.
If I'd had room in my suitcase, I promise you I would've taken him home with me. Instead, as it turns out, he's due for a shearing this week. And in a few weeks, a very big box will arrive on my doorstep. Because really, what else could I do?