Out Like a Lamb
It’s April 11.
To my amazement, I woke up to another fresh layer of snow on the ground this morning. Huge flakes have been blowing across my view, while the sun is trying to push through the cloud.
It’s a novel thing, to be sure. However, at this point in time I had hoped to be digging in the garden, sorting out plants, harvesting some seaweed at low tide, maybe even having a cup of coffee whilst sitting on the porch in the sun outside....
I don’t remember it snowing so late in the year here before! I do recall it happening in Ontario, Canada though. Very rarely would I have snow on my birthday. (We’ll see what I wake up to tomorrow morning!).
At the moment, reports from Ontario declare 20 degree temperatures! Meanwhile, here in Scotland it seems we have had the heaviest snows of the season this last week. April showers indeed. It makes me think that we have not exited March like a lamb, or if we have, the lion has decided to come back for a little while as well.
Regardless, the lambs will make their entry into the world for the lambing season, whether the world is ready or not.
'The lion shall lie down with the lamb....'
Looking out at the sheep in the landscape, I think of Henry Moore and his sculptures.
‘Henry Moore saw a stark link between the rock that was both his material and inspiration, and the grazing calmness of sheep. The animals stand out in the landscape in the same, oblique way, providing an aesthetic of both fitting in and being anomalous; they litter the vista in a way that is puzzling and warmly mysterious. ‘ (Adam Covell)
Sheep by Henry Moore, Zurich, Switzerland
Lately I’ve been listening to an audiobook by Roger Deakin, an English writer, documentary-maker and environmentalist. I’m only just becoming familiar with his writing.
As Adam Covell points out, Roger Deakin saw this connection of sheep and stone himself when walking the Rhinogs where he writes of seeing that same relationship that sparked Moore’s fascination with sheep: “I watched a ewe standing between two big rocks the shape of goat’s cheeses. They were just far enough apart to allow the animal in, and I began to understand the relationship Henry Moore perceived between sheep and stones. He saw sheep as animate stones, the makers of their own landscape.” (2000, p.91).
When I first arrived in Scotland and was travelling the length of the country by train, I was struck by the number of sheep as I looked out the window on the passing landscape.
It's not unusual, for example, when driving along the north coast or in other more remote parts of Scotland to end up in the middle of a group of sheep on the road.
Sheep near Dunnet Head, Caithness
Moore so wonderfully captures the calm presence of the sheep on the landscape through his voluminous sketches, which are very sculptural in feel, even though on a 2D surface. You can see how his background and expertise in 3D work is portrayed in these beautiful drawings, mostly done with a biro pen!
I do hope that the weather will ease up soon for the sake of the sheep, lambs and shepherds!
Right now I’m inclined to stay inside and snuggle up by a fire, but I’ll try and go out later, to catch a breath of that fresh air and clear the head. I guess a Spring clean can mean any number of things!
And here’s hoping April goes out like a lamb.
How sweet is the shepherd’s sweet lot! From the morn to the evening he strays; He shall follow his sheep all the day, And his tongue shall be filled with praise.
For he hears the lambs’ innocent call, And he hears the ewes’ tender reply; He is watchful while they are in peace, For they know when their shepherd is nigh.