Rogue sheep: a guest post by David Vann

A few local tales from here in Northland, New Zealand. Lappie the sheep. A few years ago, my wife and I went for a hike, and Lappie was watching. Waiting for us on our return. He’s famous on Kahoe Farms. Has a wicked headbutt to the knees, not afraid of people at all. The other sheep run, bunch into a corner, wonder why the escape isn’t working out. But Lappie wanted a piece of us, waiting right on the path. So we crossed a stream to the other side, ran along that path before he could cross. Cowards. But we’ve been hearing more stories of Lappie this time. He was brought to another farm to get a couple of sheep pregnant, which he’s of course happy to do, but unfortunately someone brought another male. Instant fight, so they separated Lappie from the other male, a fence between them. In the night, Lappie broke through the fence to get to that other male, then killed him. Like something out of that movie, Black Sheep, which I’m dying to see.

Kahoe Farms is a fantastic place to stay, if you ever visit New Zealand. Half an hour north of KeriKeri, run by our friends Stefano and Lyndsey, the two most generous people you’ll ever meet. Lyndsey crazy about books, tearing through everything, Stefano crazy about football (soccer) when he’s not making the best pizza I’ve ever eaten. We’ve gone to a couple of his games, tense and exciting, and I went to one of the practices, thinking I’d work up to playing in a game. I ran a ridiculous amount, loving it, and couldn’t move for the next four days. Then I went for a short jog up a very steep hill, trying to work back toward another practice, and my legs became far too tight, something stretching couldn’t fix. The next day, I was sitting up and suddenly it felt like the central muscle in my left thigh had torn away from the surrounding muscles. Unbelievably painful, and lasted for days. I am no Lappie. Lappie would have me for lunch. So I went to the fabulous Jim, who can work miracles on muscles, and now I just run on the beach here in Taupo Bay, go boogie-boarding, go for hikes. I don’t play soccer or run up hills anymore.

Which brings me to age. I use an author photo from when I was 31, but I’m 42 now, a liar like most authors. No harm done. One odd thing about my age is that I’m older now than my dad ever was. He died at 39, just before his fortieth. But it seems like he was older than I’ve been yet. Two marriages to my one, two kids to my none. More money, a dentist, hated work more, sacrificed more, experienced less of what he wanted. I grew up in a lucky, easy time. But it’s odd to pass a parent.

There are a few mercies to age, such as the fact that the older keep looking younger. Fifty used to look geriatric to me, and now it’s the look of my friends and looks close enough to youth. A kind of natural sedative to keep us all from tearing at ourselves.

I’m getting dangerously close to a discussion of the meaning of life here, and of course I have nothing to offer in that discussion, really. I can say for certain that leisure is not the key to happiness. My wife and I floated around the Caribbean long enough to find that one out. Engagement is far better, and there’s nothing that’s ever engaged me as fully as writing, which is why I still do it every day. Beyond that, though, the rest is more confusing. You’re on your own.

1 thought on “Rogue sheep: a guest post by David Vann”

  1. Andromeda Romano-Lax

    Just to comment of one tiny part of the many things you shared, David, I appreciate your humorous confession regarding the author photo — something that MANY of us can relate to…

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