When I was Small by Susan Schuler
Susan Schuler is originally from Germany. She has lived in Aotearoa for almost twenty years. She writes poetry and paints abstract paintings. She has recently chosen to focus on memoir writing, to remember some of her childhood in Europe.
When I was small I honestly thought that liquorice was made from pig’s blood. I believed a lot of what my father told me and remember thinking that pig’s blood tasted pretty good and how did they add all those colours to Liquorice Allsorts.
Mum still lived with us then and the smell of home baking would fill our rented house up on the hill. She was making plum tart, our favourite treat. We had harvested the pipped purple fruit ourselves.
My younger sister Valerie and I happily spent most of our active days outdoors exploring the French countryside surrounding our small village with neighbourhood friends - whose parents didn’t object or didn’t know they were playing with “les boschs” (a derogative French term for Germans.) We would return home only for food, supplies or to sleep.
I was aware and in awe of the strength and agility of my small body. I could run like the wind, climb trees like a monkey, swing from branches and fall without really getting hurt. Recently when I told my eight year-old son, Ethan about my climbing, he looked at me and kindly said, “So you were a tomboy mum.” Yes, I guess I was. I loved making huts and would equip them with my favourite toys; naked Barbie dolls and pink My Little Ponies proudly exhibiting their new punk haircuts and missing limbs.
I have a photo of me at eight years old, standing on our concrete driveway half of which was still hidden under a thick blanket of snow. I am wearing my faded pink jacket, a woollen hand knitted hat and matching gloves. My hands are holding the wooden snow shovel and I am grinning from ear to ear.
When I was small, every day promised adventures. As an adult I see the world differently. Some of the magic is gone.
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