There in front of me were a few pilgrims. Where did they suddenly come from? In front of the pilgrims was a herd of sheep over the Camino road. I hung back. I wasn't sure I wanted to go through a herd of sheep. I wasn't
sure if they would cooperate or not. There might be rules or guidelines that could be useful if one only knew them. It didn't look as though I had any choice though. I consoled myself with the thought that if the pilgrims in front of me could do it, then so could I. On the other hand, I was only one person. What if the sheep decided to sort of fake me out by letting the pilgrims go through first only to bite my ankles while I tried to go through? They might sense that I'm a knitter and secretly resent people who twist
their hair around needles for hours on end. And why were they on the Camino anyway? Wouldn't they rather be munching on some tasty green grass? Some wind blown wheat perhaps? Baguette? And where were the sheepdog and shepherd? I watched. I waited. I moved cautiously forward. As soon as the pilgrims neared the pack they parted straight down the middle as if Moses himself were standing before the red sea.
And, also just like in the Bible, as soon as the pilgrims were nearly through, they snapped back up together closing the middle tighter than their own wooly hair. I smelled a trap. I couldn't really go around them because I would then have to walk through a farmer's field. And what if they do let me
through, only then to turn around and chase me down the path all the way to Santiago? It was going to be tough to outrun a herd of sheep in a 12 kilo backpack. By the time I processed all these thoughts, I was near the edge of the herd. I looked at them, they looked at me. I turned my walking poles sideways in case I needed a weapon, held my camera with the other hand, and went through saying a few new mantras:
Sheep in front of me, Sheep behind me,
Sheep to the left of me, Sheep to the right of me,
Sheep above me, Sheep below—huh?
Here and now sheep, Sheep here and now,
Here a sheep, There a sheep,
Everywhere a sheep-sheep!
Sheepers, Deb. Perhaps not exactly what the Buddha ordered.
To my surprise and relief, they let me through without any problem. I would even describe the process as having been exceedingly polite and extremely efficient. I felt a little guilty for having wielded a potential weapon. I saw the sheepdog and the shepherd. They were on the side of the road which sloped down into a small ravine. They had been obscured from view by the sheep who were higher up on the path. I was relieved to know that the sheep weren't alone and just out for a group stroll on the Camino. Besides, if they had been, Santiago was in the other direction. As soon as I had made it through, I turned around and watched the sheep zip the remaining tidy gap they had made for me shut. Path now wide open, I walked happily on to Grañon.