Eight years ago and 3100 miles from home, I petted a baby gray whale. We were on a NatGeo photographers’ whale-watching trip off Baja California, Mexico. Of eight people in our Zodiac I was the only one who hadn’t touched a whale, but just as we were about to return to ship, a mama whale nudged her baby up to me and held him there. It remains one of the biggest thrills of my life.
Last week I snuggled with a young alpaca — Trenton — sweet, gentle, soft, sweet-smelling Trenton. He ranks right next to that little whale.
Trenton lives with sixty-some other alpacas about seven miles from our door. The visit to Poplar Hill Alpacas was just one event in Carolynn’s and friend Robin’s springtime visit to us. My eldest has loved alpacas for years. She has a folder bulging with information about them and a dream as high as the Peruvian Andes where they come from.
Owner Pat Fuller gave the five of us — Carolynn, Robin, Leslie, Peter, me — a tour that lasted nearly two hours. We went into the barn and paddocks with the animals, and she urged us to pet them. Cuddles were encouraged too as long as we held them firmly around their necks. The day was sunny and too warm for the fleece-coated ‘pacas, but they submitted to our clinging hugs willingly.
And they hummed, as alpacas do.
Carolynn’s idea of heaven.
He’s a character.
Young ‘pacas in a paddock
This big guy had the second best fleece in the world a few years ago.
Juvenile males are separated from females, because there’s only one thing on their minds.
Peter isn’t a hugger.
Beautiful young lady.
Three youngsters waiting to show us their fleece.
Trenton thrilled me.
Leslie organized the herd.
Another day we visited a stunning exhibit, Jennifer Carpenter’s “Colored Pencil in Bloom,” at the Peggy Hahn Pavilion in the VT Hort Gardens. Then we had an alfresco picnic under some pines.
Leslie, me, Carolynn
Wine, cheese, and fruit!
Sunday, Leslie set a beautiful table and fixed a traditional English dinner — roast beef, Yorkshire pudding, roast potatoes and veg, trifle — to commemorate the “Downton Abbey” series finale.
We had several meals out, plus Carolynn made creamy chicken soup one evening, and Robin’s favorite birthday meal another — colcannon, sausages, carrots in horseradish sauce, and lemon curd with cream for dessert). I was permitted to prepare lunches, and Robin demanded baking time to add to the supply of delights she brought to us — Irish soda bread, cheddar crisps, raspberry chocolate bars, mincemeat cookies, ginger snaps, marshmallows.
Every day was feast day all day long!
In addition to card games, our evening entertainment included the hilarious “Meet the Patels” on Netflix, and “Whiskey, Tango, Foxtrot” at the cinema. We also went to “Lady in a Van” to see Maggie Smith as a homeless, wheelchair bound character. Instead we saw “45 Years” because I had the dates mixed up! A grim movie, but I liked it. Carolynn, Robin and especially Peter glared when the credits rolled.
All in all, everything about the week was lovely. It proved you don’t have to leave home to have a good time. Well, except for Carolynn and Robin. They traveled 1192 miles round trip.
Now back in her routine, I know Carolynn is having alpaca dreams that will come true one day.