I'm so excited. I just can't hide it.
And it's all because I'm having a close encounter with a sheep. Yes, that's sheep -- as in baa, baa -- those woolly, wandering, wonderful animals whose sole purpose in life is to cater to the needs of us eternally grateful humans. And of course, to dot rural landscapes with a simple, picturesque beauty as only a herd of sheep can.
Recently, dear friends who are also relatives by marriage, returned from a trip to Ireland. To my surprise and delight, they brought me a gorgeous sweater made of 100 per cent merino wool crafted in County Kildare, Ireland. This is one incredible garment.
In fact, the tag on the sweater states that merino wool is "highly prized for its supple and gentle handle, its silky long fibers giving warmth and lightness, and unrivalled in its ability to wick, absorb and evaporate moisture, a natural insulator that keeps you warm in winter, yet cool in summer." In ordinary parlance, this means just about perfect.
I couldn't agree more. Wearing it as I write this, my torso and arms feel caressed. It's as if this sweater is a second skin. The style is long and clings gently to my hips. The fit is superb. There's even a hood to pull up when the wind is brisk. Simply put, I'm in sweater heaven.
On top of that, the good folks at West End Knitwear Ltd., in Monasterevan, provide the purchaser with a little background on the merino sheep, explaining that this species is originally native to southern Spain, but now is mainly raised in Australia, Argentina and South Africa where the warm climate influences the production of the soft fleece. Apparently, even King Louis XVI of France got in on the luxury wool market by improving the breed. The manufacturer goes on to say that Ireland became the benefactor of the sheep trade when merino wool was smuggled into the country on British and French ships along with brandy, wine and other contraband.
The last line on the tag says, "We know you will enjoy this aristocratic sweater." The word "enjoy" must be a bit of an Irish understatement.
I'm sure they must have meant "adore".