For a portion of my childhood, our family raised sheep. Brenda and Brendan were the wooly parents, and each spring we’d look forward to the birth of two lambs. I greeted this with much excitement, largely because of my investment in the naming process.
One particular year we had three little lambs born – this posed an extra challenge to the names I’d spent so much time on. The first two were christened Breakfast and Lunch (I clearly harbored no delusions about the purpose of these cute creatures we were tending), and the third, after much deliberation: Uncle Dave. This name came in a burst of youthful creativity as my uncle by that same name happened to be visiting. Uncle Dave the lamb was a favorite of mine (as was and is the person), and come the fall, its hide was tanned as we completed the fall butchering.
This sheepskin, which my entire family continues to refer to as “Uncle Dave,” is the actual subject of this article. While young, my dolls slept on it, tucked into a corner of my room. As I became a teenager and developed a distaste for mattresses, I used as my bedroll the soft, warm, thick sheepskin that the dolls had outgrown. It’s been with me in dorm rooms, tents, silos…the various sleeping arrangements I’ve had for myself.
And now, of course, it is in our cabin.
As the cabin was completed last fall, there was no question in my mind that “Uncle Dave” would have to have a special spot. Yet I wasn’t sure what Ryan’s reaction would be…the dominant décor of our humble bedroom is Buddhist motifs and simple furnishings. Next to his Indian rug, beside our bed, I laid out my sheepskin.
My concern, of course, was far from necessary. Upon climbing into the loft each night, Ryan routinely claims “Uncle Dave” as his favorite spot. And I agree. The thickness of the wool, even after so many years, has not diminished. It’s warm when wood is not, and a soft greeting to bare feet. The sheepskin’s name, too, is a source of comedy, an easy source of laughter and merriment as we end the day.
And yes, the real Uncle Dave will get a copy of this sheepskin tale to honor his legacy.
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