Sunday, November 16th, 2014
Back in the 70’s when I was an impressionable teenager, I saw Australian filmmaker Peter Weir’s movie “Picnic at Hanging Rock”. Although there is no bloodshed or violence in this film, it is perhaps one of the most terrifying I’ve ever seen. Among other things, it involves a group of students and teachers who go for an outing at a geological formation and, apparently without provocation, fall into an irresistible sleep while (we think but we are never quite sure) dreadful evil-spirit-type-things happen to the girls who venture to climb up the rock.
Aside from the compulsory first grade in-school naps on icky rubber mats, napping in America is quietly ignored. Terrible shame, that. Those of you who work in offices may notice that post-lunchtime slump where you either pretend to move your fingers around the keyboard or stoke yourselves up on bad coffee to get through to the end of the day. You may also notice that upon your return home, your cats and dogs seem to be unbelievably and annoyingly awake and full of beans. I’ve got news for you. They’ve had their nap. They are ready to Par-TAY. Has it ever occurred to you that your pets might perhaps have the right idea?
The glorious things about animals is that they feel no shame whatsoever in simply indulging in their natural biorhythms, responsibilities be damned. If you were to venture out to Star Gazing Farm any time between 2 and 5 pm any day of the week, you might be alarmed at what you saw. Animal bodies are laid out all over the place. No discernable conscious thought is taking place anywhere on the farm.
Last week I saw Rocky our beautiful 2600 pound steer lying on his side at the bottom of the hill, legs in front of him, head flat on the ground. It was a windy day, and the only thing moving was his big, black ear. I called his name and there was no response. I yelled his name, and no response. Now panicked, I climbed down through the pasture, mind racing with possibilities, and all of a sudden he lifted his head lazily and said, sleepily, “wha??” Naptime. It’s not the first time I’ve thought someone had died so I should be used to it by now.
I confess that on the days when I have worked from home, I, too, have succumbed to the pull of naptime. All the dogs pile into the bed with me, and sometimes a few cats, too. I’ve also heard tell from neighbors that they have felt an irresistible urge to hit the bed right around 2 pm. I’ve wondered if there is something in the air out here – people have talked about it. The Boyds Sleep Vortex.
But then I remember Italy.
Some years (actually a lot of years) back, I was traveling with my best friend Jackie through Sicily. We had decided to send some postcards to friends, and made our way through this small mountainside town to the post office – only to find it closed. It was 2 pm. We were incensed! How can a vital institution like a post office close in the middle of the day! An elderly man saw us getting worked up and approached (admittedly we were twenty-something and probably not too bad looking) and we discussed this problem with the gentleman at some length. He patiently explained the concept of “sonnellino” or, of course, “siesta”. He seemed genuinely perplexed that we were unfamiliar with this Really Good Idea, and offered up the other quite valid option: go get a cappuccino and sit down for a few hours, doing nothing. We chatted about this nap deal with people as we made our way north towards Rome, and since we found pretty much everything closed in the afternoon, we decided to simply go native.
This nap idea, once tried, made perfect sense and from that day forward I have never believed that the 9 to 5 workday is a sustainable concept. Now, it’s sheer coincidence that I’ve ended up on a farm where all my animals seem to be Italian. But I’ve always loved animals and I’ve always loved Italy, so there is nothing whatsoever to complain about. And while Hanging Rock is a good 6,000 miles away and may have nothing whatsoever to do with the Boyds Sleep Vortex, we play it safe at the farm and sleep through the afternoon.