It’s high time someone spoke up for the mountain goat. Hardly anyone ever does. He’s just left there, like a distant relic from that old TV series of Heidi where the little girl got sent to live up in the mountains with Grandfather and played with Peter (who herded goats but never troubled himself about their psychological wellbeing); and spent some time in a hamlet where she met Clara who was a girl who may have used a wheelchair. (I could be mixing that last part up with “What Katy Did”; there were limited roles for girls and any opportunity to make one stand out in the cast would be used).
Anyway, the point is, no-one really cared about the goats. It was all about mountains and sunshine and that odd sense of not quite belonging to the same world as the characters. I think this is because everything they said was heavily dubbed but it could be because Heidi was happy with a day spent running around mountains, far removed from us, who would just about consent to watching her provided we got to watch The A-Team afterwards.
But even if, like me, you watched all of the episodes of Heidi AND used old treehouses to try and re-create the feeling of living on the side of a Swiss Alp, you probably wouldn’t have thought to include a place for the mountain goat. Because that’s the kind of kids we were. Selfish. Dog-orientated. Unaccustomed to the ways of Grandfather who was so gruff he’d sooner throw Heidi off the mountain than give her an extra hunk of cheese in the morning if her chores weren’t done before the sun was up.
The mountain goat’s given us a lot. Mainly milk and wool, it’s true. But I’d like to think that it’s only a lack of opportunity which have prevented the mountain goat from taking up the place in popular culture that’s reserved for the more dogmatic species – like the dinosaur for instance. Since Jurassic Park, dinosaurs get all the kudos, don’t they? It was just their luck that they were exterminated by prehistoric Daleks (we all know it’s true so don’t even THINK about contradicting me with anything science-related). But think about it – if there were pterodactyl droppings all over your car tomorrow morning, would you be so keen to head to the cinema to watch them in 3D in a few weeks’ time? I. Think. Not.
“I’ll just rest here overlooking that Ferrari.”
It was really just the dinosaurs’ good luck that kept them in the public eye. That, and Steven Spielberg who must also shoulder some of the responsibility.
By comparison, your typical mountain goat just trundles on from one age to the next. Nothing great in terms of evolution. The odd moment in the spotlight whenever someone gets carried away at a Sound Of Music karaoke session singing “The Lonely Goatherd,” or, more disturbingly, certain song mash-ups. These can only be considered a cruel prank considering the mountain goat’s proud bearing (able to withstand the toughest winters; the steepest slopes; would give Tom Cruise a run for his money in the stunt department).
What can we do to re-dress the balance? Give this selfless creature a sense of its importance? A semblance of respect? Is that too much to ask????
Apparently so; so I wrote a poem instead.
Ode To A Mountain Goat
Solemn he stands at the crown of the world,
In the majestic silence,
The crumbling air
Forces a momentous turning of thought.
Silently he stares, riveted by a vision of his future.
O all-seeing goat,
From your hallowed seat
Remember the small beginnings from whence you came.