Part 48: Battling The Elements For Education

As announced in the timetable, the bulging subject matter fell mercilessly upon me. After a brief time, it became clear that I was one of the weakest students.

Although I didn’t carry the red lantern, the girls secretly mocked my weaknesses. This spurred my ambition, especially because I quite liked the girl Rosemarie with her long blond hair. Fortunately, my head was like a dried sponge, long unchallenged and now infinitely receptive. I studied and crammed like a man possessed. I wanted to prove it to the women. But nature was against me.

The autumn storms with rain and the carts loaded with beets made the dirt road almost impassable. It took me even longer to get to school, and when I finally arrived, my shoes and stockings were wet and filthy, my pant legs splattered with mud up to my knees. I was ashamed. Then I remembered the jackboots from the bomb hopper. The boots were still too big, but with foot rags made from a worn bed sheet, they fit like a glove.

The pant legs into the boot shafts, so they stayed dry and clean. The janitor had set up a washing area for the wandering birds in the boiler room. Before class started, we scrubbed our shoes with water and a brush, and during the big break, we greased and creamed. The trouser legs over the boot shafts, and I was presentable again.

In the days off from school between Christmas and New Year, I allowed myself a break from learning. Wood needed splitting, and my rabbits once again needed thorough care. My faithful foxhound had deposited a litter of puppies for the second time in the wash basket, which stood in the front hall with dirty laundry.

She could have given birth to her young in the barn or shed, but she was following the primal instinct of her wolfish ancestors, and with them the offspring belonged in the care and custody of the pack.

For Susi we were the pack. Again and again, she nudged me while I was working, jumped in front of me and lured me to the laundry basket. With sparkling eyes, panting slightly, and wagging her tail, she looked up at me as if to say, ‘Didn’t I do a great job?!’

The puppies were still blind, but they sensed their mother’s closeness and meowed softly. Only after I had stroked the boys extensively, Susi gave peace and lay down contentedly with her children.

In the new year, I started working hard again at school. Everything became easier. The road was frosty and snowy, and the snow made the darkness in the morning a little brighter. Slowly but steadily, my performance improved. My mid-term report card showed that I was already in the middle of the class.  𝓣𝓸 𝓑𝓮 𝓒𝓸𝓷𝓽𝓲𝓷𝓾𝓮𝓭

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