The Iowa Review
They Have Forgotten Many Things, Pt. 2
Thirty-plus years after the Falklands War, the world is indeed safe for South Atlantic sheep shearers and their sheep, though not so much for their cows. Over the years, Adrian Lowe has lost half a dozen cows to land mines on his beach, but no sheep. "You have to be a hundred pounds to set them off," he says. "Sheep are all right. Cows don't stand a chance." Minefield signs with skulls and crossbones are as common here as animal-crossing signs elsewhere in the world, the skull-and-crossbones mouse pads sold along with Falkland Island hats made in China in the local gift shops. Fourteen years ago, Adrian and his wife Lisa started diversifying by taking day-trippers from the cruise liners on their brief stopover to Antarctica to the penguin rookery on their property, Rock Office, where thousands of penguins nest along a craggy shoreline, and by taking Falkland War veterans to memorials and graveyards to pay respects to their fallen comrades.
"A really good gather," Adrian says, pointing to the crest of the hill at a mob of sheep that his wife Lisa and his son have herded to be sheared this Saturday. He walks with a bit of a limp as he steps from his aged Land Rover to close a gate behind us on the farm he and Lisa run with their children—10,000 acres, only of moderate size in the Falklands. Adrian, in his fifties, originally from England, has lived in the Falklands for forty-four years, but he's a relative newcomer. Lisa's family has lived here for five generations.
A hundred years ago, Adrian would have been the typical Falkland Islander, a shearer of almost unparalleled skill—though a hundred years ago he wouldn't have owned his farm but would have worked for the omnipresent Falkland Islands Company.
"I'm only five miles out of town," Adrian tells me as we take an off-road circuit of East Falkland in his Rover, "but I'm Camp, definitely Camp." Adrian frets that everyone wants to live in Stanley and the traditions of Camp are being forgotten, children growing up in Stanley, not even taught their own history by the imported teachers from Australia and the UK. Not even taught the '82 conflict.
Journalists in '82 called the landscape "barren and windswept," which likewise annoys Adrian. "It was winter anyway." Regardless of the season, an outsider's first impression as he or she travels the forty minutes over a gravel road from the airport into Stanley will almost certainly be that of a melancholy landscape, wind-stripped hills and rivers of rock that people call "stone runs." Adrian sees something different. The land is windswept undeniably, but it's also one of the most beautiful spots in the world, his home worth defending.
As we bump mile over bumpy mile, past stagnant ponds, white grass, and diddle-dee, a heather-like bush reminiscent of Scotland, an upland goose trots along, taking off like a cargo plane fully loaded; seven ewes and two lambs run in front of the Rover; a fjord like something in Iceland commands a view of rugged hills and sea; and several seemingly unperturbed cows seem stranded on an island the size of a football field. Adrian points out the places where the wind has eroded the grasses, the best places to dig peat, he says. If it's too fluffy, it goes straight up the chimney, and you have to cut it so that the hole doesn't make a hazard for cows and cyclists. There's enough peat for Adrian to heat his home and cook with for the next million years, he says. And it's free.
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Founded in 1970 and edited by faculty, students, and staff from the renowned writing and literature programs at the University of Iowa, The Iowa Review takes advantage of this rich environment for literary collaboration to create a worldwide conversation among those who read and write contemporary literature.
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Robin Hemley is the author of eleven books of nonfiction and fiction and has received many awards, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, three Pushcart Prizes in fiction and nonfiction, and the Independent Press Book Award. He is currently Director of Writing at Yale-NUS College in Singapore and Distinguished Visiting Writer at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia.
"They Have Forgotten Many Things" originally appeared in the Winter 2016/17 issue of The Iowa Review. This is excerpt 2 of 3. The full essay can be read at
The Iowa Review, "They Have Forgotten Many Things"
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on September 05, 2017