by Annalise de Fere
Once when I was walking in the woods, enjoying a warm summer day, feeling the sun on my hair and hearing the birds singing and enjoying the colors of the flowers, I came upon a path I had never walked down.
So I turned and headed down this path and came upon a cute little cottage in the woods. Out in front of the cottage was a woman washing wool. She offered me a seat and some cooling mint tea, and told me about her sheep.
She said the flock she kept was mostly ewes that were only one or two years old, but that she made sure to always have an older sheep that had been part of the flock since before the younger ones were born, and she would hang a bell around that sheep's neck so it was always easy to find, and when she needed to lead the sheep somewhere she simply led this older sheep, called the bellwether, and the rest of the herd would hear the bell and follow.
And the sheep felt so safe when they heard that bell, they would follow without thought or question. And I noticed as she was telling the story my mind started to drift and I felt so safe and calm and all the cooling tea had gone down deep into me and left me feeling so safe and comfortable with this wonderful woman and her soothing stories.
She dried her hands and put the wool aside to soak, and from her pocket she pulled a little bell. It had a soft, soothing sound, and the shiny metal in the sun easily caught my eye, and she encouraged me to just relax and follow the bell, no need for questions or thoughts, just staring and feeling so calm and safe as I followed the bell as she carried it into the cottage at the end of the path.
And having followed her calm and safe into the cottage, where she lived with a wood stove and the sunshine to keep her warm and the sweet smell of mint and other herbs drying in bundles hung from the ceiling, I let my eyes drift closed with a peaceful smile on my lips as she hung the sweet bell around my neck and led me by the hand and gently but inexorably pulled me blissfully mindless into her bed. Everything felt so warm and safe, no need for thoughts or questions.