The winter season was all about in the northern clime and had set into our town that covered the houses and the byways in a coverlet of white of the snow and frost. It was the season when the group of pensioners, eight in all, a sat in hardback chairs and wooden crates around the hot barrel stove at Lem's General Store and gossiped away.. Off course, Lem didn't mind them taking the chill from their fragile bodies; in fact business was rather thin as there was hardly a buyer in the premises, so he hustled a packing crate to sit on and joined them in their gossip on this and that on the doings around town..
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Well, the chit chat finally drifted to a news paper item that told of man that could speak to animals and could interpret their talk. The pensioners along with Lem chattered their opinions about this great man and his unusual ability to be conversation friendly to varied animals, until a rather loud voice bellowed out saying, 'T'aint nothing, nothing at all!' .
The other chaps turned and looked at the old Major, considered the leader of the pack of elders. The Old Major, turning a robust eighty, had earned his respect for his service to his country during the war to end all wars and his word was respected by all. He was a well know figure about town and everyone knew the sight of the tall, erect elder as he swung his cane during a stroll while on an errand.
"Well, if you want to know what I mean, just stop your gab and perk up your ears. Let's see! Ahh, yes," as the Old Major turned his craggy face, beaked with a veined Roman nose, to the group and repeated his remark. "T'aint nothing! I knew of a feller who could talk to and understand the lingo of plants and flowers. He was a short little fellow quite tubby in appearance. Now what was his name? Ahh yes, I remember – A Professor Schnitmitz of the Pletzfog University near Heidleburg. And…
Before he was able to continue, Lem called out and voice his opinion and said it was a lot of hooey. 'Talk to green stuff, t'aint possible'….
The Old Major was put out by this remark and told Lem if he would shut his mouth and listen; then all would be clear. Then with a loud clearing of his throat and a 'ahem' or two he continued his speechification.
"Now where we? – ahh yes I was talking about Professor Schnitmitz - Professor Seigfried Shiklegruber Schnitmitz was the chap and his flower friends. Wal' the prof. was getting on years, as seen in slightly stooped tubby body and the white of his thinning hair topped on a rather wrinkled face. He had never a smile on his lips, always grim.
He was quite renowned around the Pletzfog University through the years as being a top Naturalist in the scientific study of plants, flowers and the other green stuff in nature. He was a good speaker and when he gave lectures his audiences were rather large, around ten to fifteen in number. I think he wrote a couple ov' books on the subject; sold a few hundred copies, enough for the printing cost. His tomes can be read in libraries throughout the beer and pretzel land if one is interested in having a confab to a pretty flower.
"Wal', as I can recollect Professor Schnitmitz's career came to abrupt end on one fateful day. I think it was about a year ago. .
"Let's see! Ahh yes – ahem, ahem!
"Tis' was a glory spring day where all the kinder, children to you, were trekking lustily though the open fields and hillocks in their proud heritage of their race. At night Aryan boyos in their lelderhosen and jerkins together with their lovely darlings in their best bib and tucker were slurping the suds at the beer halls and lustily belting out songs of the fatherland.
"Yep, it was sure a glorious day when Professor Schnitmitz stepped lively through the paths of the Pletzfog University towards his laboratory cum classroom. As he walked he called out to the hibiscus plants lining the byways and complemented them on their finery and they shivered in delight to his remarks. As he entered his laboratory he stopped and patted the geraniums, and the flowers scented out their ….”
Lem called out again and interrupted the Old Major by say he was 'nuts' when he remarked that plants can talk and feel. But the Old Major disregarded him and continued…
"Wal', as I was saying. Professor Schnitmitz entered into the building and with a 'Guten Tag' to the few he met in the vestibule as he walked towards his laboratory. At the entrance he fitted the key to the lock and then grasped the doorknob firmly and with a twist and a turn it was opened to his welcoming well endowed sanctum. Wal' with nary a word he was in his laboratory coat and was ready at his work.
"Then the learned professor on high stool alongside his working table, which contained a rather electronic contraption with all sorts of buttons and switches, lights that blinked and winked, and wheels and gears that hummed in their revolution. It was his inventive entry to the plant world where he could communicate with either a pansy or rose or any of nature's plant and flower creations. A headset with two earphones and an attached small microphone was nearby, which he adjusted to his large ears. A switch was pulled, a couple of buttons were pressed and with a wiz he entered the world of pansies and roses.
"'Guten Tag', my lovely creatures… But, before he was able to continue his confab, the professor heard terrible screaming and cries for help that pierced his hearing. He quickly doffed his head set and hurried amidst screams and cries for help and rushed to the large window of his laboratory. There, to his horror, he saw the gardener trimming the rose bushes, and carelessly stepping a bit on the planted pansies that lined the path.
"Before the good professor was able to utter 'Ach du leiber', he doffed his laboratory coat and grasped his stout walking staff and ran out of his laboratory as fast as his stumpy legs could run. Her ran helter-skelter through the lobby, pushing aside anyone in his way towards the entrance to the building.
"There on the outside he confronted the gardener with his walking raised above his head of the poor chap and called out to him in no polite language over and over again…
" 'Dumkopf, murderer, swinehundt' and the rest of the not so nice expressions were hurled at the gardener. The poor chap, seeing the raised walking stick above and hearing the curses from the professor, dropped his garden shears and took off like grease lightning with Professor Schnitmitz close behind him.
"Wal, I can't recollect what happened next, but I know Professor Seigfried Shiklegruber Schnitmitz is quite secure in the cuckoo nest somewhere along the Rhine. They say he very happy walking about the garden and talking sweet things to the pansies and roses and other plants that he meets, and...''
'You're nuts like that professor', commented Lem, as pulled himself off the crate when a couple of customers braved the cold and entered his emporium.
Lem approached the twosome and inquired of their needs.
'Yes my good man. My name is Schnitmitz, Prof…. ….
Norman A. Rubin