Monday, October 12, 2009

Write Away Seminar: Happy Trails

Bagpipers in Trailing of the Sheep Parade

It seems like everyone else has such an exciting life.
They're from other places, and do different things.
They march to a different beat.

Polish Dancers, Trailing of the Sheep

They get to wear cool outfits.
I'd dance through life, too, if I had a cool outfit.

Basque Shepherds, Trailing of the Sheep

These guys are Basque.
They must live in some faraway, fairytale place,
like . . .

Herding the Sheep, Ketchum, Idaho

They're shepherds!

Basque Sheep-Shearers

This cute girl shears sheep for a living.

Shearing a sheep

She's been at it since she was a little girl,
and while she's pretty fast,
her husband is faster.
He can shear up to 200 sheep a day!


In the summer, they live in a sheepcamp like this.

It's got modern appliances,

And all the comforts of home.

Dee and I went to visit!

Dee's writing a history of sheep-ranching in Utah. So, suddenly we're into sheep. This weekend was the annual Trailing of the Sheep Festival in Ketchum, Idaho (just outside Sun Valley) and we went on a research trip. A few of the activities were: a gallery walk featuring lamb appetizers, sheep dog contests, a hike to see shepherd art carved into trees, Polish dancers, Basque musicians, demonstrations of carding and spinning wool. The grand finale was a parade, with a herd of 1500 sheep running down Main Street on the way from their summer pasture to their winter home.

Fingers flying, yarn balls rolling, a family of knitters were part of the story-telling event. Nine of them (including a 7-year-old boy) sat on stage working their needles and telling stories of folks from New Zealand, Scotland, France, Spain, Peru, Chili and Poland who brought their knowledge of sheep ranching to the United States a hundred years ago. The tradition has stayed alive, and large families still live this nomadic life—right now—in Idaho, Nevada, Wyoming and other regular places. Who knew?

Dee and Marty Collecting Info

Can you imagine how boring and lonely and unexciting it must be to herd sheep? But we were absolutely fascinated because it's so different. It just shows that everybody has a story to tell.

Even you. But here you are, sitting at your desk, paper in front of you, pencils sharp, pens poised for action wondering: What can I write about? What is there to say? You feel as blank as the page itself.

Deep down you know you have a lot to say. Just think about your last telephone call. Can you hear how you jabbered away to one of your best friends? You had plenty of ideas then. Think about the last time you griped to someone about your life. You were loaded with complaints, weren't you? Or consider your advice to your little sister, who has an idiot for a boyfriend, or your brother who just quit his job. And your mom. You honed your talent for debate right in her kitchen. Yes, you have a lot of wisdom.

You have within you a gold mine of source material to draw on for writing. Moreover, you are unique. No one else has lived your life. No one else knows quite what you know or sees through your particular eye. So, what you have to say is special and will be alive and interesting. If you can reveal what you know, value, think about, worry about, fear, or look forward to, you are bound to find an audience.

Writing is risky: you show your reader who you are, but you must write from yourself and with your own authentic voice. Don't just follow the crowd. Be the black sheep. Be ewe.

2009 Trailing of the Sheep Parade

Homework: Do any or all or be inspired.

~Write a love letter to a modern appliance you could not live without. Idea: "Dear Washer: Before you came to live with me, my life stunk . . . "

~Could you live absolutely alone, for weeks at a time? Write a paragraph about what you would do if you had nothing to do. Prompt: "All I have here is time. I've decided that I will . . . "

~If you could plan a 3-day festival to depict your lifestyle, what ten activities would you choose? Go back and explain why each one is meaningful. Idea: Hike up Mount Olympus, German cooking class, political debate, etc."

Write away!

*If you do any part of this assignment on your blog, please link it back to TravelinOma and provide proper attribution. Leave a comment here (with a link to your homework if you want to share it) and/or a link to your blog (so we can get to know you.) School Days has open enrollment so join anytime. No make-up work required! If you're new, click here for an orientation.


J, K, L, and D said...

What a great festival! I laughed out loud at "write about ewe."

Jake said...

Ewe two look great!

kenju said...

So did I, and I have ALWAYS been the black sheep!

Diane said...

Here are my thoughts.
week 7 Assign 1

audrey said...

Here we go!

the wrath of khandrea said...

i know this defeats the purpose here of sharing wisdom, but can i just say you look totally foxy when you collect information? is it the jackie-o-glasses? the stylish lift in your hair? hard to say. but foxy it is.

and ps... i'm pretty much a stone's throw from ketchum. i mean, the stone would be airborn for about 4 hours, but still... next time, come by.

~Kristina said...

I love "ewe"! Perfect.

compulsive writer said...

my dad used to herd sheep up in the backcountry by bear lake. and i helped shear a sheep. once. that's all i got.

KJ said...

why didn't I know about this event? and pray tell the best places (i.e. clean and affordable, ambiance a bonus) to stay?

dalene said...

and now my homework is done.

KJ said...

and my homework assignement is here

Diane said...

I know you say we don't have to do make-up work, but I need to do it to have the personal satisfaction that I've truly stuck with and completed the course. So, here are last week's assignments (I was on a cruise...). You don't have to read them, I just needed to write them.
Thursday 1
Thursday 2

Olive's Granddaughter said...

Marty--Amazing. I haven't written anything for months, then today I wrote about Ketchum and Sun Valley! Quite the coincidence, eh?

diane said...

I had heard there was a large Basque community in Idaho. Thanks for showing the cool pictures as I am reading a series that takes place in Scotland and refers to sheep herding.

I wish I had my own festival.

Travelin'Oma said...

KJ asked where we stayed. The Kentwood Lodge (Best Western) right on Main Street in Ketchum, Idaho is wonderful. Depending on the deal you get, it costs $132-$160. The rooms are huge (with a tiny fridge and microwave) very clean (I had to search on the floor for a dropped advil, so I know) and perfect for strolling the whole town.

~j. said...

short and simple.

debby said...

what i would give to be alone a little more often...