Anna Sanner

The Tale of Ferrety Burrows

Winding creek near Dunblane, Scotland.
Winding creek near Dunblane, Scotland., Dunblane: © Alexander Hamilton

Anna Sanner

After dreaming herself into Beatrix Potters childrens books as a little girl, Anna Sanner is treated to a romantic real-life encounter with the Lake District as a university student.

Ferrety Ferrety Burrows
was as strong as a plough drawing furrows
With his gingerbread coat
he could row every boat
to the dreams dreamt by Ferrety Burrows
For my 10th birthday, I was given Beatrix Potters 23 Tales. Back then, I did not speak or read English, but it was my dream to one day be fluent at it. The books were a gift from a family friend who had been to England, and Beatrix Potters picture books drew me right into its green hills, grey stone buildings, and cosy burrows.
Beatrix Potter (1866 –1943)
Beatrix Potter (1866 –1943)
was an English writer and illustrator best known for her 23 Tales including the famous Tale of Peter Rabbit. After her hopes of becoming a scientist were thwarted by the Victorian eras male monopoly on science, she successfully turned her talent for accurate observation and life-like drawing to creating childrens books. Inspired by family holidays to Scotland and the Lake District, she later bought Hill Top Farm, where she spent the last 20 years of her life as a farmer, sheep breeder, and conservationist.
When I was 20, I started studying in Scotland. Built in the 1960s, Stirling University was not much to look at, but the scenery around it resembled Beatrix Potters illustrations to an astonishing degree. The campus had its own loch, and the wooded hills behind it sprouted carpets of bluebells in the spring.
In my final year, I moved in with Tom. Tom was tall and skinny, and his short, dense hair was almost ginger, which he vehemently denied. He liked to fish and hunt and was doing a Ph.D. on trout parasites. The flat we rented was on the ground floor of a quaint two-storey building near Dunblane. The Clachan (Scottish word for a small village) unnoticeably merged into the fields and farms surrounding it. I loved to go running from there. I could go on for hours and see nothing but woods and green fields.
Tom liked to shoot rabbits behind the house. It inadvertently made me flinch when he broke a rabbits legs to take off its coat, and many a secret tear went into our stew along with the garden herbs and red wine.
Sometimes we visited country fares. Once, we saw a ferreter. Wearing knickerbockers and a tweed hat, he stood in the middle of the performance area, his ferrets whizzing around him. He said ferrets were not only great for rabbit hunting, they were also lovely wee pals, and while some people were scared of them, it was easy to calm them down. All you had to do was this: He swiftly picked one up by the scruff of its neck. The ferret went limp and swung back and forth like a wet stole. This reminded me so much of Tom that I burst out laughing. Being long and skinny, he often suffered agonising back pains, but as soon as I put my hands on his neck, his body went limp, and his face serene. From that day on, I called him Ferret.
Tom and I were a good couple. He adored me. I loved his sense of humour, his sweetness, and his scientific mind. We took turns cooking, enjoyed the warmth of each others company when the Scottish winters turned dark and unfriendly, and attended karate classes taught by our friend Rory, a lab worker in Toms department who came from a rough neighborhood in Peterhead and taught karate in a real-life self-defense sort of way we both admired.
Of course, we had our differences. He was conservative, I was unconventional, he was a scientist, I was an artsy type, he was insecure, I was confidently budding. Tom wanted to get married and get on the property ladder. I didnt mind the idea of getting married or owning a house one day but wanted to see more of the world before settling down. So, when I heard they were looking for a German teacher in Spain for a year starting right after I graduated, I said yes. I felt bad about...

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aus: Englisch 5-10 Nr. 45 / 2019

Picture Books

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