Big trees with wind blown dresses hiding behind them.
My new mother and a strange man named Diether, that is what I remember of the Black Forrest. Little children’s games of hide and seek It is funny that there was no picnic- but then again …
As a child it seemed another walk, but this time it was different. To get there we took an automobile as opposed to a bus. It was just me, alone as a child, isolated from the herd of my combat inmates at the Kinderheim.
If you can imagine Marilyn Monroe a little thinner, but more statuesque, so very tall and in a red polka dotted dress, that would be my mom in sun glasses, the one that took me. I call her Mutti, German for mother.
At least that is what she told me, that she was my mother. So what else would you expect a post suckling calf to do? Of course I believed it! I loved believing it. It was a fairy tale of the best and better than the best of times. It was a wind to a life that was brought up surrounded by stone hewn rooms and a coven of craggy disciplinarians. It was life and affirmation that I was to belong, had always belonged, was the chosen child by birth right to a great woman of character, appearance and nobility. From the trough of the waters in the middle of the North Sea, Joan of Arc was indeed to be my rescuer and my mother!
It is hard to know how I behaved. Certainly I was like a puppy from the pound, but caution still rang true, and the eddy’s of the wind were always shaping and shifting my instincts. I watched and sniffed the motion of those two, like a hound tilts nose to the air to test the surroundings and avoid an encounter with an unexpected storm or bad winds.
The trees were tall that day, and you never know which way they might fall.
It had the appropriate Germanic name of Schwarzwald, the gutteral sound of it alone, the name Schwarzwald evokes images of the slaughter of countless Romans who suffered the ill misfortune of attacking Germanic tribes many centuries prior, and even the greater agony of becoming lost in this savage forest to be preyed upon by the shriek of the wind and the night terror of things unknown.
It was all about snap shots on this day of my life. Brief glimpses that were carefully choreographed into a smooth cake for a child to taste, like the first time you feed a puppy. A lot of encouragement, gaiety, natural born beauty recognized in your mother, that begets promises of genetic potential of self, and most significantly an unaccustomed level of attention that on prior and “special” occasions, was more likely to become a lesson in discipline than an act of nurturing and recognition.
That explains the nose tilt. There was a wind, but I couldn’t figure it, so I put it aside and wagged my tail instead.
Now about that forest. Black is a misnomer here, as that was a given attribute one readily recognizes when entering presumably wolf laden woods. Tall and saliently huge would be a better expressions of the dark giants that quickly enveloped us, swallowing all hope of safety and quick escape. Doom comes to mind.
There are certainly bigger and faster, more lethal creatures, than simple wolf fairies that rule the land here. But you really don’t have to be that big to swallow kids like me- and while that wasn’t in the forefront of my mind, it definitely kept my ears perked up for the duration.
Now I don’t really remember blankets, baskets, breads, bottles of sweet nectar and wine, German sausages and salami slices, unsalted white butter, or sweet chocolates as a venue on this gorgeously crisp and windy day, but I do remember that the only blanket to be thrown down that particular day was the one on my bunk in the Kinderheim, later that evening as I went to bed.
Not forgotten that day, in the forest of all forests, was the excitement and titillating laughter in Mutti’s voice. She was imprinted for life that day. Calm yet impetuous, imperiously beautiful, and savagely intelligent. The Schwarzwald had been her home since maidenhood, and she relished sharing her secrets and survival instincts with her little wolfling. She was at her best here, had eluded many predators of the two legged soldier kind in day far prior, and clearly had the legs and energy to outrun a fox.
The large man in the dark suit she had brought along, was a lover long past from academia at Heidelberg Universitat where she had degreed in something. Either way, his purpose I am sure, was to bear witness to the first mother child reunion of us. And that is what Diether did. He watched us play, most likely laughed when my mother hiding behind a large tree was oblivious to the fact that her dress was billowing out like a parachute behind her hiding spot, advertising red polka dots that were screaming out to be found, in our first and only expression ever, of hide and go seek. Unfortunately I felt more like the common garden variety scavenger (coyote type) at that particular moment.
So my nose was up.
As an afterthought to those moments I realize that hide and go seek is one of the most instinctual acts that animal families engage in to foster trust, nurturing, love, strength, and survivability in their young. The very process itself encourages exploration, problem solving, bonding, chase and capture, the process of the hunt, and techniques for concealment, basically all of the things you need to survive at a primal level, and as well, the inseparable bond of trust between mother and offspring.
So live and learn and learn to live was the mid afternoon dining for the day.
And all of a sudden it was over. No memory after that until a far away next time meet with Mutti..