I woke up this morning to the sound of rain on the windows, which has become the soundtrack for my life. We've had rain every day for the last six weeks and have gotten about eight inches just this month. Parts of County Cork have had flooding problems, but we've been lucky so far in our little corner of the Middle of Nowhere.
After letting Toby out and feeding him, I went into Peter's office to start working. Now that I've been at my job for a year, I am able to work from home two days a week. Like most of my co-workers, I've selected Thursdays and Fridays as my at-home days. When I took a break a few hours later to get my mile run in, the sun was shining and the sky was a sheet of uninterrupted blue satin. It's the sort of weather that makes you forgive and forget six weeks of rain.
My plan was to just run laps around the outside of the house, which is something I often do when I just want to get a quick mile done and don't want to subject myself to the risks of the country roads. Toby was dancing around, excited, since he loves to races along the perimeter of the yard while I plod along on the gravel driveway, the huge grin on his face mocking my bipedal slowness.
I stepped out the back door, admiring the green hills, when I glimpsed something out of the ordinary. Sheep - white, fluffy sheep grazing in the next field over at the bottom of our garden. It was the perfect bucolic scene that draws people out into the Irish countryside. The flock consisted of at least 25 sheep and they truly were the fluffiest, whitest sheep I've ever seen outside of a picture book.
A fantastic image and something that should have had me smiling. And if it had been a herd of cattle, I would have been. But Toby is notoriously unreliable off-leash around sheep. He just can't resist the thrill of the chase. He hasn't hurt one yet but I live in fear of the day we have to knock on a farmer's door, chequebook in hand, to pay for the damages caused by our dog.
I leashed up Toby for the run and haven't let him out unsupervised since. The rest of the day, I worked at the kitchen table, where I could monitor the field. I didn't spot any sheep. It doesn't make sense for our landlord to have sheep, since the field isn't really fenced for it. I'd almost think that I imagined them, except that I can see strands of fleece clinging to the barbed wire of the fence.
It's silly to get worked up over some sheep, especially when I don't know for sure that they've taken up residence in the field. But my fear of authority, sharpened by twelve years of Catholic School and the stereotypical ruler-wielding nuns, makes it too easy for me to imagine the aftermath of a Toby-related sheep mishap. I like my landlord and don't want to get in trouble.
I'm developing plans in my head, plans that involve reinforcing the bottom-of-the-garden fence with chickenwire or something similar (right now, it's just a post and barbed wire deal) and getting a shock collar for training purposes (for the dog, not me, although maybe some shock therapy could curtail my penchant for endless worrying). I'm better when I have a plan, when I feel like I can exert some control over the issue. But still, sometimes I wish I could just relax and enjoy the surprises in life, like the perfect vision of sheep on a sunny day.
Picture taken by Peter in Scotland during our honeymoon in 2004.