Monday, September 10, 2007

Goats and Dreams

A couple of weeks ago I was strolling through our local Barnes and Noble bookstore. As I recall, I was not looking for anything in particular. For some reason, I found myself in the nature section. Though I enjoy reading on this topic, it is not one that I frequent when wandering aimlessly through the bookstore.. Not shelved such that only the spine was visible, but facing full front like it was placed there just for me, was a book titled The Year of the Goat by Margaret Hathaway and Karl Schatz. It caught my attention because I have this not so secret fantasy of having a goat or two. I picked it up, read the jacket notes, and was immediately drawn in.

The book chronicles the year-long travels of the authors as they sought to escape the hectic lifestyle of New York City and find meaning in a simpler place where they could live closer to the land. In New York, Margaret worked in an upscale bakery in the city and Karl was a photographer for a major publisher. Both enjoyed fine food, especially cheeses, in particular goat cheese. After serious but not abundant research, they came to the notion that maybe they could find the life that they yearned for by raising goats for cheese making.

They set out to traverse the country visiting goat and cheese conventions, farms across the country, and anyone else who would talk to them about their dream to become goat farmers. Margaret and Karl left New York with a few personal belongings, their dog, Godfrey, and a dream - not a real plan, just a dream. Their travels took them across the country from coast to coast and south to north from Texas to Minnesota. The purpose of this year on the road was to gain practical insight into the life of goat farmers. Margaret and Karl did indeed find these insights, but they also found so much more. It is the "much more" that made this book a great read for me.

I was most struck by the fact that these two people had a dream and set out to make it come true. Though they had some basic ideas of what they would do during their year on the road, Margaret and Karl trusted that they would be lead in the right direction. And, they were. I wish I had this kind of courage - the courage to dream this big and then go for it. For someone who is not a risk taker, it is almost impossible to comprehend such a decision. This book is affirmation that all of us can make our dreams come true if we allow the magic to happen.

Dreams often come true in fiction; it is nice to see them realized also in non-fiction.