Thursday, January 03, 2008

Llamas in Suburbia

Way back when, in another time (the mid-90s), another place (another New England state), while my husband was finishing school, he spent a month or so working in a local hospice for one of his elective rotations. It was hard and powerful work.

Also during this time, his car was dying a slow, miserable death. It was a 1982 Volkswagen Sirocco, and it had seen some fun and interesting adventures. By this time, mileage was up in the 180,000 or 190,000 range.

During the hospice work, the car broke down yet again, and as the only way we could afford to keep it going (and we could not swing a new car at all) was having him do the work on it himself on the weekend, a fix had to wait and my husband had to catch rides as best he could during the week. Thankfully, there were some kind hospice nurses who lived in nearby towns who would oblige. (I think they were also pretty impressed that a young student would take the time to learn about hospice and work along side them in whatever capacity was needed.)

One of the hospice nurses knew the back roads in this small town we lived in better than we did. We were transient, after all, leaving in a few months, so what point was it to learn all those little roads? On one ride home, the nurse drove my husband down a side street past a small sheep farm. It was just off the main road, and we had no idea it was there. It may have been a small town, but it wasn't particularly rural, either. It was like a little secret. The nurse said her kids referred to this road as the "sheep way" and every time they drove in the vicinity, the kids would insist they go the "sheep way" so the kids could see the sheep.

My husband thought this was a sweet story, of course, and told me about it. Several days later, he drove me by the sheep (in my more reliable car) so I could learn the route, and from that day until the day we moved, if we had to go in that direction, we went the "sheep way."

About a mile or so from us now is a parcel of land on a small hill with a fence and a barn and a sheep and a llama. Yup, a llama. Alpacas may becoming more common place, but a llama in someone's yard is still a little unusual. We drive by this scene when we need to go to the pharmacy or the local Marshall's. My kids ask to drive by the llama sometimes, and telling S that we'll be passing the llama often can turn her mood to the positive. She loves that llama.

It's our own little "sheep way."

Over the last few years I've wondered what the heck a llama thinks about our climate. It's not quite right for a llama, really (I don't think). Although the summer heat doesn't last too, too long, it can't be at all comfortable. I don't think I've ever seen that the llama has been shorn, either.

This morning I had to drive up to the pharmacy and drove by the llama. As I approached the curve at which I could see the barn, I noticed the llama up and about and walking around leisurely. I'd never really seen it move much before. It's always sitting in the shade of the tree or the small barn. It struck me that the llama seemed happy. Huh, I thought.

Then, quickly, duh!

Of course the llama is happy! It's 10 degrees (F) out! With it's thick coat, it's comfortable, and closer to its natural climate!

Glad someone is enjoying the weather.

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