National Geographic : 1969 Jun
elaborate needlework (pages 814-15). At Herastrau the blouses are especially famous for their rich colors and lively patterns, handed down for generations., Verse Immortalizes Shepherd's Farewell In many such villages of the Carpathians, wealth is measured not in currency, houses, or silverware, but rather in the quality and variety of home-woven blankets, carpets, and richly embroidered clothes. In the cooler heights above Herastrau the forests are thick from the abundant rain. Here .......... .V ... ,...... . ... m.. lumbermen work with noisy chain saws and teams of sturdy horses to cut and drag huge trees to waiting trucks. In a single year, we learned, one of these men can earn even more in wages than a skilled surgeon working equally long hours. "Why the disparity?" I asked a forester. "It is quite simple," he answered. "A la borer is highly productive for only a short period; he cannot count on the same physical strength all his life. It is natural that he earn more for that short period than a professional man, whose earning power lasts far longer." Above Herastrau we came one noon upon a shepherd family-a man, his wife, and three young sons-milking a flock of 350 sheep. "Do you live up here?" we asked the man. "Yes," he answered, pointing to a tempo rary shelter, a bed of fir boughs beneath a huge, uprooted stump. "Come and join us for sheep's cheese and mamaliga." As we ate the soft white cheese and steam ing corn meal, the shepherd suddenly asked, "And how did you get to our country?" "In an airplane," Dick answered. "And when you were up there, did you see God?" the shepherd asked. Then, without waiting for a reply, he de clared, "I think that when He saw men that high, He went higher Himself." Many of Rumania's folk traditions stem from the mountain shepherd's simple way of life. He is fiercely independent, loyal, and as self-sufficient as his predecessors, the Dacian shepherds who roamed these mountains long before the Roman era. The shepherd's life is seasonal; every fall he returns home to the valley, his flock heavy with curling wool and his carts loaded with cheese. His moods are those of the mountains and of mountain weather-gentle as the most fragile flower, dangerous as a wounded bear. There is a Rumanian poem, "Miorita," that tells of a shepherd who is about to die. He in structs one of his sheep to explain to his flock: Somber in widow's black, a farm woman near Podu Dimbovitei met the hikers with a sad tale, recorded in the photographer's diary: "A few months earlier her husband, armed with an ax, had attempted to drive off a bear mauling his sheep. When his son arrived with a rifle, the bear had fled; the father lay dying, his face unrecognizable. Without hesitation, the son trained the gun downward and fired. Now, with her son in the army, the mother tends the farm alone."