The Befriending of the Sheep

The Befriending of the Sheep


"If the sight of the blue skies fills you with joy, if a blade of grass springing up in the fields has the power to move you, if the simple things of nature have a message that you understand, rejoice, for your soul is alive."

- Eleonora Duse


The cottage we are currently renting is surrounded by sheep on three sides. It is lovely to see them grazing in the lush fields of green at the base of these lofty mountains.

The sheep are getting used to us now.  The first few days we were here, they would run away whenever we stepped outside.  Even as they ran, I would say good morning to them and tell them they did not need to worry for we were kind people. 

They gradually stopped running away but for a while still gave me some very strange looks. I think they thought I was the weirdest person they had ever seen. Who is this lady talking to us every time she comes outside?

Now, they not only stay and do not run away; some of them give me a good morning "Baaaaaa" in response to my greeting.

I take photographs of them almost every day and they are so used to it now that the camera doesn't bother them. They will look at me for a moment or two, depending on their level of curiosity, then return to their grazing.

It has been lovely to see their transition from fear to trust, and it is such a treat to be in this beautiful space.

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Eleonora Duse (1858-1924), quoted above, was an Italian actress, the most fluent and expressive actress of her day.  The British playwright, George Bernard Shaw, was one of the many critics fascinated by Duse's ability to produce an "illusion of being infinite in variety of beautiful pose and motion."  One of her critics wrote that Duse played what was between the lines; she played the transitions.  A tremor of her lips could reveal exactly what went on in her mind; and, where the character's inner life was lacking because the dramatist had failed his task, she supplied motivation herself.  To watch her was to read a psychological novel.  

In 1909, Duse quit the stage, mainly for health reasons.  Financial losses incurred during World War I, however, obliged her to emerge from retirement in 1921.  Her acting powers were undiminished but her health was still not good.  In 1923, she appeared in London and Vienna before embarking on her last tour of the United States.  The tour ended in Pittsburgh, where she collapsed.  Her body was taken back to Italy and, in compliance with her request, she was buried there in the small cemetery of Asolo.

 

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