living life in a multicultural world
As I see 50 sheep run into my children’s school playground I cannot help but smile. The sheep mill around the slides and the swings and the children rush out of school and children and sheep are all intermingled and running and playing and I have tears in my eyes I am so amazed, so amazed. I have seen the sheep around town for weeks roaming through the small “bos” (forests) in the area. A herder and her herd, cleaning up the forest, moving from place to place and now they are hanging out on the playground.
I am amazed for several reasons. First of all, this event would never occur in the US. I am sure it would not be allowed for some reason or other. It must constitute a liability of some sort, or at a bare minimum be a health hazard. The children are touching them, hugging them, showing us dirty wool that the herder has distributed to everyone. The wool smells, and I immediately wish I had brought my Purell. Then I shake my head and think I am being ridiculous — completely neurotic and American, that I must stop, but deep down I worry sheep carry some sort of deadly tick or strange African flu. Some neurosis are hard to let go of.
Another reason I am floored is because it was so beautiful to see this pure joy and interaction among sheep and children. Well, at least the kids were having fun. This medley of sounds and smells and in general incongruous scene make me feel alive and happy to exist.
And I was also amazed because what’s old is new again, I thought to myself. Sheep, coming into my new life in Holland making me remember stories my mother told me about going up Faro mountain in Spain with the sheep when she was a child living on the farm. The wooly past resurfacing, scratchy yet warm and comforting. My kids coming home with Dutch school work that I cannot help them with, just as I came home to my mother in the United States with English schoolwork she could could not help me with.
I think of my mother as I stand there with the other mothers who are watching the scene. We are all mothers, all hoping for healthy and happy children. All sheep, following each other on a general life course. Why is it considered bad to be a sheep? Just because they all go in a similar direction? They are still unique, all special in their average sheepish ways. The threads of similarities twirling in my head like wool in a spindle. My mother and I, the sheep and I, moving from place to place, finding home wherever we find ourselves at the moment. Grazing on life, attached by thin threads made from our own lives and those of generations past.
We go home and wash our hands well.