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My first relationship with a goat started 20 years ago at the Topsfield Fair. I was participating in the Topsfield Rodeo with my late horse Okie. After our barrel runs, my friend Lisa and I were walking around the fair when I saw him … a beautiful white goat staring right at me. He was peeking around the corner of his stall … beautifully captured in a painting.
Something about the light, the composition, and his face struck me deeply.
Lisa and I continued to walk around, checking out quilts, more paintings, and other crafts by the local 4-H clubs and artists. By the end of the evening, I moseyed back to the goat. I had to see him again. I wanted to know if he was for sale.
When I arrived in the artist's tent, he was gone. His artist was the only one that had already packed up and left for the night.
I was disappointed. And, even as weeks passed, I kept thinking about the goat. I felt I had met the man of my dreams on a train and forgot to ask for his number. I checked the Topsfield Fair website to see if the artist was listed, but she wasn't. So I decided to find the artist the following year, but Lisa and I did not attend that rodeo.
In the meantime, I got married. More than aware of my obsession, Lisa gave my husband and me a beautiful print of another painting with a goat. It is called "The Goat Lady" by Jane Bregoli. It depicts an older woman from Dartmouth, MA, that was known to be a loving and caring guardian of her goats.
I loved the print and the accompanying book. But it did not hit my heart like the painting I saw in Topsfield.
When Lisa and I went back to the fair the following year, I was still hoping to connect with the artist. But, unfortunately, she was not attending. So I asked every volunteer in the artist tent if they remembered the artist that had created a goat painting. I described it the best I could, but it did not ring a bell with anyone.
Eventually, one of the volunteers took me aside and let me look through a folder that cataloged all artists from the last few years. And though I did not find the goat painting, the way I described the light of the painting, the volunteer finally suggested that it must have been one of Mary Ann Manning's paintings.
I took down her name and number, thanked the volunteer profusely, and left the fair with a big smile.
I called Mary Anne the next day. After I'd explained my odyssey of finding her, I hesitantly asked, "Is he for sale?" "Funny you should ask," Mary Anne said, "I just recently retired him." "Retired?" I asked. "Yes," she said, "this painting has gone to many shows and fairs over the years. It has won many ribbons, mostly blue, but it is time to retire it." "Does that mean he is for sale?" I asked hopefully. "Yes, he is." "I want him!" I blurted out. "When can I get him?" Two days later, I was on my way to NH.
After more than two years, my goat and I were finally face to face. I still loved him as much as I did the day I met him. I was thrilled.
When Mary Ann handed the painting to me, she told me the name of the painting was written on the back. When I turned it around, I saw the title.
"Honey, I'm Home."
As I loaded the painting into my truck, I said to the goat, "Yes, Honey, you are home now."
He was the goat who never let me go. I know the expression from the art world. We use it when a piece of art speaks to someone so much that they can't stay away from it. Must have it.
This statement relates very much to us animal lovers. Don't you think? In my experience, every so often, I have met an animal I could not NOT think about.
The first day I met Shana, my Arabian mare, she took one look at me and had me hooked. I was at that particular backyard barn to check out a trail horse. As the woman tacked up Kaylaa, I stood in the stall with little Shana, barely a year old, fuzzy and fabulous. Like a fawn. The woman offered me Shana, as well. I laughed and told her I had little to no experience with babies and wasn't prepared to take one on.
Kaylaa came home with me. And a month later, Shana was in my backyard as well.
Flitzer, my cat, did the same thing. I was picking up some Chinese herbs at my vet office when 3 months old Flitzer peeked around the corner. He bumped his forehead into my shin, and I was hooked. My vet offered him to me, and I laughingly said, as much as I would love to … we don't want to stress our older dog with a kitten.
But, on the drive home, I couldn't get that little jet-black kitten out of my mind. He had saved the lives of another kitten and a dog. All three of them had been abandoned, and Flitzer, back then named Astroid by the vet staff, had pushed the flyscreen of one of the apartment windows so long until it gave and careened down six floors to the sidewalk … the kitten flew alongside the screen. This kitten was a hero, the Lassie of the cat world.
And that is still true. Flitzer has tamed my mother and our other cat Mimi and is, as you heard in the last podcast, quite the caretaker extraordinaire. And what I observe as occasional bossiness and persistence is what saved his butt and those of his cohabitants back when he was still so tiny.
And then there is my sweet dog, Scout. As gunshy as I was about getting a dog at that time because we had experienced a failed adoption. And as inconvenient as it was to adopt a puppy as we were about to move from Massachusetts to Vermont. I explained to the adoption agent with flying colors how amazing Scout's life with us would be. Lots of land to roam, a person who advocates for animals, he could even become an ambassador … which ... by the way ... is the one job he has rejected from the beginning. He would not be a dog on the road for a dog and pony show. Scout has better and more important things to do at home. Overseeing the land and the herd and helping us voluntarily by bringing in feed bowls and firewood.
And, every night, he works on me. He invites himself next to me on the sofa and begins a gentle licking routine to help me settle in and let go of the outside world.
So many of you have the same experiences with an animal. I know that because I get to talk with you and see that you have animals that didn't let you go.
When we're open and curious and trust our intuition even if the rest of the world thinks we're crazy, hey, even when we think we are crazy, like me bringing a horse into my life that was barely a year old, we must trust those feelings. Because it leads us to profound connections.
I recall that day, standing next to the doe-eyed yearling. I hear my laugh and see myself raise my hand, waving off the woman offering me a yearling. But, that day, I had also heard a little voice saying, 'You can do it. I am easy."
And right she was. Raising Shana was easy, but more importantly, Shana has become my most trusted soul sister and truth keeper. In my experience, the ones that don't let us go are the ones that bring us home. Again and again.
I am curious. Who has brought you home? Tell us about it.
Put it on Social media, or email me.
I am always excited to hear your stories.
Until we connect next time … big love … Auf Wiedersehen.