Maria and I drove out to the Vermont Fiber Mills (and Alpaca Farm) in Brandon, Vt. today to drop off eight bags of wool from the last sheep shearing at the farm (and Tess's last wool sheared before she died), Maria sells the yarn and roving. Red is a riot there, he is almost completely undone by the Alpacas, who do not look or act like sheep and stare at him as if he just fell off of the moon.
Red rushes to the fence, looking authoritative and focused, then confused and unhinged. He realizes quickly that these are not sheep, but he has no idea what they are. He looks anywhere but at the Alpacas, who make strange noises and seem astonished by him. He returns the favor. He looked at me almost piteously, very uncharacteristic of him – please, get me out of here or tell me what to do – and after a few minutes, he abandoned his post and ran off to cuddle with Deb, who owns the mill. Red is a worker, but a lover too, and he will switch from one to the other quickly.
Going to Brandon is one of the new rituals of our lives, and lives are made of rituals. We leave Sunday morning, drive through the small towns of Vermont, have lunch in Brandon, go see Deb at the mill, she and Maria tally up the wool and go over how it is to be milled, Red melts down around the Alpacas (they love Red there) and then we drive back, stopping at some of the apple stands and country stories.
Maria and I love to carry out these rituals together – once a day usually, we drive into Cambridge, stopping at the Post Office, hardware store, food Co-op or bookstore, we see friends, talk to storekeepers, embrace the new rituals of our lives together. In one sense, life began for both of us four or five years ago, we are opening up to new experience all of the time, we are discovering life, community, connections and ritual together. I love the way rituals appear and grow like limbs on a tree – we have a favorite restaurant in Brandon, a pastry and muffin shop, Deb may come to the Bedlam Farm Open House next year, I see my life as a cup that is filling up all of the time.
The Vermont Mill marks some of the passages in our lives, the sheep, the time of year, Maria's growing community of friends, blog followers, customers and fellow artists and humans. We will be back in Brandon to pick up the wool in a few months, then back again when our new and old sheep are shorn again in April or May. Another ritual will return to us then, hopefully we will have some lambs to add to our flock. Red will know what to do with them