Friday, September 19, 2008

My Grandmother's Gift - Part 2

Nostalgia by Elsie Heberling
(This was written about her childhood in the 1890's. She probably wrote this piece in the 1950's or 60's, but she did not put dates on her writing.)

Nostalgia can be a devastating thing; and after wrestling with its gnawing, which at times brought a form of sickness that could no longer be denied, on a bright and hot August morning we set out for the hundred mile trip to visit my childhood home. The early sunrise was just beginning to stain the eastern sky with all its color and glory as we drove out onto the highway. It was not the distance that had prevented me making such a visit, but I was afraid it might be changed; and I never wanted it to change, and besides, I wanted to see for myself.

Perhaps it was the poor quality of the fruit that the market stalls were offering, with their tough wooden texture, that caused me to go at this time when I knew the fruit trees would be yielding their burdens of lusciousness. I had visions of plump red and golden peaches hanging heavy with ripeness in the hot sun. As children we had plucked them fresh from the trees, all for free, just for the taking, and if we sometimes acquired a bellyache from an over abundance, why that was for free also, and we accepted it as a matter of course and well worth the discomfort. A peach ripened on the tree, fresh and delectable, provided an ambrosia that the ancient gods could not surpass. I had prepared myself to once again partake of these delights.

When we arrived, the sun was high and hot, but the big white house standing back from the road on a higher level, seemed cool and serene. The first glimpse of it through the trees caused the lurch of homesickness to creep over me with greater intensity than I had ever known. As the car moved slowly to where we could have a better view, there was much evidence that it was not the same at all. Many changes had been made. The wide porch that had spread full width across the front had been enclosed in glass. On the same porch we had sat together as a family, in the evenings. The cool breeze would waft down the creek valley and bring relief from the day's heat, and as twilight deepened, we children would count the stars as they appeared in the sky, until there would be so many we could no longer count them. We listened to the hum of the night insects and the forlorn croaking of the frogs. A little later we would sit entranced, watching the lemon colored moon slowly rise into the velvet sky, directly over the church steeple. And each time in its never failing rising, it would appear to us as a new and wonderful revelation.

This is only the first part of her essay on Nostalgia. I think her descriptive writing is beautiful and insightful. And so, my grandmother's first essay is published on the Internet, on a blog - two things she never heard of or could have imagined in her lifetime.


Ruth Hull Chatlien said...

She was a beautiful writer. I want to know if those peach trees are still there!

Anonymous said...

I think it was my mother who started to type the manuscripts. In fact, the unfinished roll top desk that she purchased and finished and now is at home here in North Carolina, I believe was purchased for that very purpose. I believe it was her intent to not just type them but to edit them along the way. I don't think mom ever spoke about why discontinued the effort. I am a bit curious as to whether the excerpt published here on your blog came from the typed or original hand written version so that we might gain some incite to whether it is the work of grandma alone or a collaboration of grandma with mom's editing.

Thanks for making a dream of grandma and my mother come true -- publication!