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160 38 In summer and autumn, barn and cellar fill up. Dry potatoes lie sorted out beneath the dark vaults; there they cannot sprout.The heaps of grain in the attic get smaller and smaller.The new grain won’t be threshed until winter. The Eifel winter is hard and cold. The bedroom windows frost over. Gaps and holes in the stables are stuffed with sacks and straw. Snow starts at the end of November. How good it is to have electric light in winter. Electricity did not come to Lommersdorf and Freilingen until the summer of 1921, only after long resistance by the farmers because the country people thought it unnecessary. Father’s sheep stay outside for as long as possible. Unflaggingly, they scrape in the snow and search for food. In the evening, Klöss brings the flock home to the stable. On one of the early January mornings in 1922, when the sheep are already a long way out, it begins to snow steadily. Maria looks outside and sees the snow pelting down incessantly in dense showers. Higher and higher it piles up on the roads, yards, and land. A bitter wind is blowing. Maria is worried about the sheep and wonders how they will find food in this blizzard. In the yard, Father shovels a path all the way to the stables and barn. Willi is kept busy clearing the path to the street over and over again. It gets dark early. Father takes the lantern and stick and leaves the house. Maria asks her sister Anna,“What is wrong? Where Father go?” Maria can easily read the reply from Anna’s mouth. She speaks slowly and forms her words well,“See where Klöss is.” It is not long before Father comes back and speaks very agitatedly to Mother. Something must have happened! Father goes off again.“What is wrong?” Maria wants to know. Stories Main Pgs 1-258.indd 160 4/26/2017 12:17:40 PM The Stories They Told Me 161 “Father is going to the communal servant,”Anna explains to her.“Sheep are snowed in!” The communal servant trudges through the village street. He rings a bell to call the people out of their houses, summoning them to come to the Giefers’ farm with shovels and lanterns. Soon all the men from the lower village have assembled; their wives, wrapped in woolen shawls, carry the storm lanterns. Father leads the way out of the village to the Stein. It is hard, strenuous work to plod through the knee-deep snow. The last ones in the long row are lucky to have a beaten, if narrow, trackpath. Maria and Toni trudge after them. Outside the village, the wind whips freely from the northeast. It drives the snow from the Stein down into the valley of Grindel Creek, where the snowdrift is higher than a man. Here, Klöss and the sheep are stuck. The men begin to dig a way through. The glow from the lanterns hardly gives them enough light. Maria can see that the people enjoy working together. She takes little Toni under her shawl; only his head peeps out. They stand and wait. When Toni taps Maria on the arm, she bends down to him, turns his face toward the light of a lantern, and reads from his lips,“I hear sheep coming!” Then Maria sees the leader of the flock push her way out and up, and directly behind it another one, with its black mouth on the back of the first. One behind the other, they emerge from the narrow gorge of snow. More than a hundred animals are glad to be free, and they hasten homewards. Maria suddenly has a strange feeling. She would like to cry. She wonders why she feels like that. Klöss keeps hold of the dogs till last. The men with the shovels, the women with the lanterns, and the cheerful children all trudge their way to the Giefers’ farm. Father brings out a bottle of schnapps, and the glass is passed around. Not until the bottle is empty do the helpers head home, through the heavily falling snow. Stories Main Pgs 1-258.indd 161 4/26/2017 12:17:40 PM ...


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MARC Record
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