Monday, October 23, 2006

The conversation went like this:

Tom: Indecipherable grumbling.

Ian: “I wonder what we can get while we’re there at least.”

Bennie: “Ian, there’s just sheep, wool and food. It’s a Sheep and Wool Festival not a Play Games and Sit on Your Butt All Day Festival.”

One can only snort guffaws as quietly as possible in the front seat of a beat-up Subaru on the way to, you guessed it, the Sheep and Wool Festival in Rhinebeck. We went on severely limited funds. In fact, I should have been looking at light fixtures instead of rovings. But I survived a night on a dining hall floor of a Girl Scout camp site Friday night; followed by the lashing together of twigs to make Wish Boats outdoors most of Saturday. This was my rationale; that and the promise of knitting up light fixtures as necessary.

So this is the fleece, wool and yarn I purchased. I had the kids pick out skeins for themselves to make socks. It mollified all except the 13-year-old.








But that’s not the big deal. The big deal was purchasing this book:

Trafficking in Sheep by Anne Barclay Priest. I haven’t read it yet, but I was enamoured when I saw it in the Woolery catalog. The description of the book was enough to capture me:

“. . . a working actress and divorced mother, Anne Priest falls in love with Nova Scotia, buys a house there and ends up purchasing an island, alternating her life between Nova Scotia and New York, raising sheep and Border collies and learning much in the process.”

It’s my dream job. Well, except for the acting, divorce and alternating time ‘twixt countries. I made it my personal mission this trip to find the book. Meandering through the last building that had a juggler outside it, I bought my dear children honey candies, giving up hope that I’d find this book. Then there it was, laid out on a table with other freshly printed, brand spanking new hardcover copies and the dust jacket depicting a woman with a Shepherd’s staff and a Border collie walking a rocky knoll, a Nova Scotia map in the background. The top copy was quickly snapped up and hustled to the vendor for a quick and final purchase.

As the woman was gathering her receipt book, I was babbling on about how I used to spend summers in Amherst, Nova Scotia and that’s why I had to have this book and my grandparents also had sheep and a Border collie named Beaver and we lived right across Bay Verte and . . . then I realized I was talking to Anne Barclay Priest herself. Idiot. The whole time I was talking, I’d had one of the kid’s honey candies sticking out of my cheek like a hamster.

I asked her to sign my book; already autographed, she inscribed it for me. I didn’t notice if she was selling fleece. I saw the booth banner read Blue Island Farm or something to that effect, never making the connection until too late. She was selling ram’s heads she had sequined and decorated herself. My kids noticed and made their connections to my heavily hot-glued deer’s skull. “Do you use sequins?” she asked. No, big blobs of glass from the Dollar Store and glass beads with hot glue. Ah! I may have expanded her repertoire. Certainly, without having read the book yet, I feel quite ready to step into a world that is vaguely familiar; one where I can return to some great memories of my own. I think it’s what memoirs ought to do.

P.S. We bought another rabbit.

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