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113 27 At last, spring arrives. The swallows appear overnight. Speedily they flit across the yard, into the barn and stables where they build their nests in the beams. They breed, and soon, gaping little beaks poke out over the edge of the nest. The swallow parents are kept busy catching enough food for their little ones. In the barnyard, the mother hen struts with her fluffy chicks over the steaming manure heap. The cat lies on the warm wall and pretends to be bored. Father has been out mowing grass since three o’clock that morning. Grass is easier to cut when it is still wet with dew. Maria is to take his breakfast out to him and spread out the grass that has been cut. She has taken the three-pronged hayfork from the barn with her and carries it on her shoulder. She waits at the front door for Grandmother to tell her where to go. But, Grandmother stands there not knowing what to do. How is she to tell Maria that she should go to the Ruede Borre field, where Father is working? But Ruede Borre is not High German, it is Freilingen dialect, and Maria cannot lipread the dialect of Freilingen. Everyone in the village speaks in dialect to each other, and they know the names of the fields only in dialect. And what names they are—Mixdell, Löfjesdell, Stöckebähne, Ühlers-Nöck, Schohn, Nehrbröck, Schaafer! All the melodious names of the fields and meadows are ancient. Many of them are derived from Old and Middle High German, some of them even originate from the Romans.They indicate springs and streams, woods and fields, and old roads that no longer exist. They tell of encounters with animals, or of a hollow tree, or of a hedgerow of blackberries all long since vanished. They refer to things that happened in a certain spot or describe the differences in the land compared to the surroundings, emphasizing distinguishing features. In the huge land register book in the Land Registry Stories Main Pgs 1-258.indd 113 4/26/2017 12:17:38 PM 114 Maria Wallisfurth Office in Blankenheim, the field names are written in both the Freilingen dialect and in High German. A villager passes the Giefers’ yard on his way to work in the fields. Grandmother asks him to show Maria the way to Ruede Borre. He does so. Maria knows the field where Father is working well, but she does not know what the field is called. She asks Father about its name, as she knows that was somehow the cause of Grandmother’s helplessness. Father, who has sat down on the edge of the field to eat his breakfast, considers this for a moment, then he says,“Rother Born,” and explains to Maria that there used to be a spring here for the big Roman villa called Am steinigen Morgen, (Stony Acre), which he points out to her. Maria will remember the names Rother Born and Am Steinigen Morgen. Over time, she gradually learns the names of many of the fields, and her family gets accustomed to using the High German names with her. The tall grass with its colorful flowers and herbs falls under the blade of Father’s sharp scythe. The freshly mown grass smells wonderful. Maria loosens the cut grass and spreads it out so that it can dry better. Bright and blue, the sky arches over the fragrant land. On the way home, they do not say a single word to each other. Only when Father meets others returning home does he smile and talk to them. Everyone is friendly to Maria, smiling or nodding at her, but nobody speaks to her. What a good thing Grandmother and Aunt Barbara are there, as they at least sometimes talk to her. Maria cannot understand Mother very well because she speaks too fast and has thin lips. Mother does not have time anyway; talking to Maria means stopping her work and gesturing to make Maria understand. Mother often goes for many days without saying a word to her, even though they are always together in the house or out in the fields. It often happens that when Maria asks a question, people do not answer but only nod yes or just smile.Then she is sad because they haven’t taken her seriously, or haven’t listened to her properly. Even Traudchen, her girlfriend, does that sometimes. But...


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MARC Record
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