Tag Archives: sheep

The Monday Book: THREE BAGS FULL by Leonie Swann

sheep I bought Three Bags Full while visiting my friend Tina’s bookstore PAPERBACK EXCHANGE in Neenah, Wisconsin. Tina’s shop is stuffed like ours with mazes of shelves towering to the moon, and I bonked myself on the head with this book while reaching for another. (No harm; it’s a paperback!)

When a book chooses you, you should pay attention.

Because Three Bags Full is a lot of fun. When their shepherd is murdered, the flock must sort out whodunit, but then they have to get the human herd to understand who, and how, and why. The best parts of the book are when the sheep react in very sheeply ways to things around them. They create a memorial field to their shepherd, but then they eat all the really tasty plants out of it, sheepishly. (Heh, sorry couldn’t resist.)

The language in the book has survived translation very well (being originally in German) and there are some lovely literary passages in addition to the sheep psychology:

“The sea looked as if it had been licked clean, blue and clear and smooth, and there were a few woolly little clouds in the sky. Legend said that these clouds were sheep who had simply wandered over the cliff tops one day, special sheep who now went on grazing in the sky and were never shorn. In any case, they were a good sign.”

That kind of thing. I liked the juxtaposition of what the sheep were thinking within their own limitations–their fear of blood smells, their herd instinct, their natural tendencies to forget what they were doing because of food–but I also liked the casual observations of humanity that were so easy to get, seeing ourselves as the sheep might see us:

“Maple thought optimistically that human beings, on their good days, weren’t much dimmer than sheep. Or at least, not much dimmer than dim sheep.”

Three Bags Full is a perfect beach read for someone who wants a fun, light-yet-insightful book that gives you a pleasant pick-me-up, murder notwithstanding. Two hooves up.


Filed under animal rescue, between books, Big Stone Gap, book reviews, bookstore management, humor, Life reflections, out of things to read, reading, Sarah Nelson, Scotland, small town USA, Uncategorized, VA

♪ Ponies in Sweaters ♪ and Sheep with bright Fleeces ♪

Jack’s weekly guest blog (the ponies below are Shetlands in Fair Isle sweaters, promoting Scottish tourism. Jack suggests we all go there now, because it’s warmer.)

shetlands in sweatersAs I write this, the temperature outside is zero degrees F. That’s thirty two degrees below freezing for us Europeans! Our heat pump is going flat out and just managing to hold 68 degrees in the bookstore. On days like this we don’t expect many customers. Everyone is huddled inside, the local schools and colleges closed because of the ice rinks that used to be roads.

Wendy and I have moved our center of today’s operations upstairs to the Second Story Cafe where it’s just a bit warmer (two degrees, to be precise). She is writing in the guest room and I am running the bookstore from a cafe table.

Locals tell us that the last few weeks are the coldest they can remember for a long time and I believe it. Even for a weathered Scotsman like me, this is freakishly cold.

Winters in Scotland…. ah, I thought I’d left them behind. I often tell folk that summers here are considerably warmer, but winters are much the same. This is not what I’m used to. Also, these really cold spells seem worse because the summers are so hot to me, creating more of a contrast. Then, too, the bookstore is in a big old house with drafty windows and doors. In Scotland, I believe the houses were better equipped to handle cold weather.

On the other hand, I may have just worn more appropriate clothing! Americans don’t work so much with wool as we do back on the Isles. And of course, your sheep aren’t as cute, either.sheep

Amidst the polar vortex onslaught, this place still manages to be an oasis (or perhaps an arctic camp) for some of our hardier customers. Our excellent chef Kelley has slept in the guest room these past two nights, to be sure of opening for hot breakfasts, and people are showing up, cold, wet and hungry for these and her bowls of warming lunch soups. Even our defiantly outdoor cat Beulah has given in and taken up residence (also in the guest room, fighting for bed space with Kelley) until things improve.

So we wait, hopefully and patiently, for the promised return more normal temperatures by the end of the weekend, and–less hopefully–for our January power bill. But I do think about grabbing Wendy and making a trip to Scotland soon, just to warm up. It might prove cheaper than heating the bookstore.


Filed under animal rescue, Big Stone Gap, blue funks, bookstore management, home improvements, humor, Life reflections, Scotland, small town USA, Uncategorized, VA