L. C. Woessner

P edro methodically put on his old work clothes careful not to exaggerate any rip or tear. Picking up his shearing tools, he traced his fingers over the stitches on the sheath sewn by his grandfather, father and himself. He remembered the story of how his great grandfather made the sheath from a sheep that had given an amazing 32 years of service. Placing the tools into his satchel, he set off down the hall.

Miguel, a boy no older then 7, wiped the tears from his eyes hearing his father's steps approach. He did not understand why his father must leave but he took the satchel and tried to act like he did. They embraced with the satchel between them.

Entering the kitchen Maria, his wife, feverishly hurried towards him and his brother, Eduardo, continued his argument "Pedro, sheep shearing is only one way of life. You are strong and one of the best polo players in all of southern Argentina, there are plenty of things you can do if not here north in Baroloche." Pedro said nothing and embraced them both, swinging his supplies over his shoulder as he walked out the door.

Maria's crying behind him becomes frantic, pleading "Please don't do this!" over and over. Pedro tunes out the sounds from the house and focuses on the songs of the birds around him as he sets out across the open field towards the main road South. Looking up at the sky as he walks he is amazed at how it seems to eclipse everything on the ground with its enormous size and importance.

Pedro walked without haste for two months keeping the North Star at his back until the huge boulders started to give distinction to the landscape. Winter season was beginning and a thunderstorm swelled suddenly. Having thought he'd left civilization behind, he was surprised to see in the distance a little white store, appearing like a sanctuary against the rough terrain. Hurrying towards the building, he noticed it was deserted. Settling in for a nap on one of the porch chairs Pedro said out-loud "won't be long, only about a week to the coast". Drifting off to sleep Pedro pondered his future - perhaps I'll shear sheep again, or be a blacksmith like Eduardo, or a mother like Maria, he was excited even though he still mourned the end of this path. When he awoke his father, grand-father, great grand-father and a very old sheep were sitting on the porch. He realized he hadn't made it to the coast like he planned and regretted not seeing the ocean or the penguins.

First published: August 2001