Notes on Reading. Nonfiction. James Rebanks, The Shepherd’s Life: Modern Dispatches from an Ancient Landscape. Flatiron Books, 2015.
James Rebanks, a sheep farmer in the Lake District of England, describes his work and his life with his extended family of shepherds. It is a chronicle told in a historic context of traditional work habits and attitudes extending back centuries.
Arranged by seasons, the book gives the readers a view of contemporary rural life and work and of the people who find their lives purposeful and meaningful because of it.
Favorite parts: descriptions of Nature in the four seasons, learning the facets of sheep farming, including herding, birthing, maintaining the health of the herd, and visiting sheep sales and fairs.
I’ve not witnessed a more beautiful autumn than the one we are having. It’s not for words to describe. Go out. Be unhurried. Open eyes. Open spirit. Open heart. Breathe deeply. Receive.
All in One Day.
Health measures: physical examination, giving blood and urine for laboratory analysis, freezing away pre-cancerous growth on scalp, flu shot, oral surgery (tooth extraction and gum treatment), ending a weekend’s tooth ache, and beginnings of a routine of antibiotics and pain medications. All good things for maintaining health and all happening on the same day!
Quotations from A Shepherd’s Life by James Rebanks, mentioned above:
“Skeins of geese pass high in the frosty blue. Ravens tumble over one another down the wind, like a black ribbon descending from the fell. Foxes skulk across the frosted fields at first light. Hares watch you with big dark watery eyes.”
“Thick white snowflakes carpet me as I head up the road. You see them falling by the millions like duck down. Some land on my face, crumple into my warm eye sockets, and blind me with a soft wetness. I feel the lightness of a snowflake land on my tongue. Soft. Fat. Delicate. Like the snow god had placed in on my tongue for Holy Communion.”
“. . . I cannot predict what is going to happen on any given morning. . . . The sun might be shining and all can be well with the world. Or, frankly, it can be a complete disaster, with the shit right and properly hitting the fan.”