Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Song of Innocence; Barely there;



Barely there;
I had some discipline but not much.
In the evening when my mother came home from work she brought bags full of exotic fruits like oranges, mandarins and bananas. They were already nearly over ripe
therefore my mother was allowed to take them home for free. Some of the oranges and mandarins had spots of whitish, blue green fungi which gave off dust particles when I touched it with my fingers. When I pressed harder my finger got stuck in a mushy mess. The banana’s skin were mostly dark brown but inside they
were still fine, very sweet. For a long time I did not know that ripe bananas were yellow. My mother made good use of these fruits. She cut out all the bad bits and prepared fruit salads.
My mother went to work, while some mothers stayed at home. As far as I know they all worked, some had a cow or two, vegetables and flower gardens. Some had tobacco fields. Many took home work from factories.
Some women had big piles of net curtain fabric on the table of their living room. I was fascinated by the stylistic patterns they embroidered by hand, flowers, birds and other designs onto those curtains. The curtains were mainly beige and white and the embroidery was in the same colours.
The mothers did not have time to play with their children. Most families had many children at least three but the rule was rather more. The well to do had usually less children than the ones with less money. I always thought this was odd, not really thought out well.
Anyway the older children generally looked after their smaller siblings. While my friends played I liked to look after their tiny sisters and brothers. I loved the little ones with their pink gums showing perhaps a tooth or two when they laughed . I carried them around and pushed their prams until they fell asleep.
I did not think of anybody to be poor in the village. Poor people lived in Africa or India. At school on the teachers desk stood a wooden money box with the curly haired head of a black boy protruding from the lid. He wagged his head up and down when I placed a coin into that money box, for the missions in those countries.

I was happy at school and I learned easily to be able to help other children. One boy, with a delicate pale face and a great mane of dark hair was always in the bad books. I felt sorry for him because he was not really bad but was always picked on by the teacher. I did nothing to help him I did not even tell my mother about it. Christmas time was his worst time at school, because Santa Claus put him in a big hessian bag and carried him away, while we received gifts.

One of my task was to go to the dairy and fetch the milk. It was open at 7 pm. In winter when it was very dark my mother went to get the milk. I liked the balmy summer evenings when it did not get dark until 10 PM. After I had purchased the milk I would play hide and seek and other games with the village children.
I liked to go to the village to watch the farmers bringing the milk. Some brought it with the tractor , but some still carried a heavy load on their backs. The small stone dairy was cold inside in summer. It was full of activity. It was like a social gathering, the children played while the adults had a word and perhaps a bit of gossip.
I could swing the full milk bucket, it was every day two litres of milk, over my head without loosing one drop of milk. I had to swing it very fast so the milk did not splash out. A half full bucket of milk ended in a tirade and a slap from my mother for wasting the milk.
My father explained to me the gravitational pull when I asked him why the milk stayed in the bucket when I swung it fast. I also learned about the magnetic force of the moon who influences rivers and oceans with ebb and flow. I gathered there were forces in nature I did not know about. It stimulated my want to know and learn more, I was only seven.
To go into the village I had to cross a bridge over the young river Rhine. There were small windows along the lower part of the bridge.Flat on my stomach I could look down into the fast flowing water. I saw its urgency to become more important and while rushing to its destiny tame and ruined.
There were no boats, very seldom a canoe. It was still a dangerous fast flowing river with boulders and rocks lodged in its bed.
We lived quite a way from the village. Our house was isolated though it was not far from the railway station. We did not have neighbours.
In the war years the house was sometimes a hiding place for refugees. They were on transit and not allowed to stay or go through Switzerland because they did not have identification papers or pass ports. They moved when it was dark. They were like shadows, here and then gone. I saw some fleetingly but did not know what was happening, pale faces with sad eyes. I knew nothing of their tragedies. The door to the cellar was always open whoever wanted could stay there for a day and as soon as darkness fell move on. It was something hidden and one had to be quiet about it. Only once somebody came up the stairs into the kitchen ate all the leftovers and took a pair of my fathers heavy work boots.
Many years later my mother received a postcard from a person who made it to the USA, addressed to the lady in the chalet near the train station.
In late summer the harvest of the grain was finished. We with many others went to the fields to glean the leftovers. We stuffed the grain into bags which we brought to the threshing barn a noisy and dusty place. In return we received a bag full of milled flour.
I was barefoot and the stalks hurt the soles of my feet. That instigated my resolution not to walk barefoot any more. My mother knitted socks and bought me a pair of sandals.

5 comments:

Elfe said...

Liebe Titania

Das Mädchen auf dem Bild, so freundlich und herzlich schaut es in die Kamera. Ich denke das bist Du?

Interessant Deine Erzählung aus Deiner Kindheit. Ja früher war es noch nicht so üblich, dass die Frauen ausser Haus zur Arbeit gingen. Meine Mutter hat später immer etwas bedauert, dass sie keinen Beruf erlernt hatte, sie beneidete meine Schwester und mich fast ein wenig um unsere Berufsmöglichkeiten.

An das nickende „Negerli“ in der Sonntagsschule kann ich mich auch noch gut erinnern.
Ich war die Jüngste und musste auf keine Geschwister mehr aufpassen, doch meinen Bruder, der neun Jahre alter ist als ich, habe ich damals fast ein wenig gefürchtet als Respektsperson.

Ja das stimmt, früher waren die Lehrer noch viel strenger und leider auch hin und wieder ungerecht vor allem ärmeren Kindern gegenüber. Heutzutage ist es eher bald umgekehrt, dass sich die Lehrer vor den Schulkindern fürchten müssen.

Da bist Du wohl etwas älter als ich, dass Du Dich an die Flüchtlinge erinnern kannst, ich bin gerade nach Kriegsende geboren. Das finde ich super, dass Deine Eltern so im Stillen geholfen haben.

Liebe Grüsse und schönes Wochenende
Elfe

Regina Marie said...

This was beautiful. Though many aspects of your life here maybe different (dairy cows) from mine when I grew up- but, I can relate more to the Island life now..having actually lived more than half my life here now. More over..I've molded myself around the outdoor and touching earth or conncecting with it (gardening, animals) as you've depicted. I also like the way you told this story..in a way it's poetic..like the exchange you had with your dad and the bridge over the Rhine.. you -"saw its urgency to become more important and while rushing to its destiny tame and ruined" Lovely. I enjoyed this very much-

guild-rez said...

Viele traurige Erinnerungen wurden geweckt, als ich Deine Geschichte las.
Gisela

disa said...

I love it ! Very creative ! That's actually really cool Thanks.

Lilli Clemens said...

Beautifully written Mumsi