Sunday, February 2, 2014

HOME AGAIN



(Another little piece of the novel I am writing, based in the Sweden of the 1800's)

          It was his sister Eva that Anders saw out in the garden as he approached the house. Even when he was some distance away, he could tell it was Eva. She was a small girl. Petit. And, Anders was not ashamed to say, quite lovely. Even when Eva was a little girl, one could see that she would grow into a beautiful woman.
          It was not that Eva had a kind of cuteness when she was little, as is seen in many young girls, but a genuine latent beauty that was just waiting for the right season to blossom. And the manner of her beauty was also unusual for a Nordic person. She was of rather darker complexion and hair. This only served to accentuate her presence in that land of fair-haired people.
          As soon as Anders could make out that there was someone in the yard, he called out, “God kväll Eva! Good evening!”
          From the sound of his voice, Eva knew that it was Anders. She was planting something in the garden on this spring evening. Eva dropped whatever seed she had in her hand and went running as fast as she could to meet her brother.
          “Anders!” she called in a delighted voice.
          Before Anders had made a dozen more steps Eva had covered most of that distance between them. Anders laughed to see her. Although she was now twenty-two years old, he still saw youngest sister as a little girl. He also knew that she was an emotional one, and before she got all the way to him, Anders dropped his pack. He knew that, in an instant, she would be flying into the arms of her brother. If he did not want to go tumbling over, he had better prepare himself.
          But petit as she was, what she lacked in size she made up in energy. Despite Anders’ preparation, when Eva hit his open arms, she sent them both toppling backwards. They both fell, laughing at themselves.
          “Take it easy, Eva!” Anders scolded her. “I’m an old man now!”
          “Oh no, you are not!” Eva laughed. “Look at you; you barely have a beard!” 
          How is Mamma?”
          It was Anders’ first question. His mother Anna Kristina was getting quite old by now, and she had had a difficult life. Her health had been on Anders’ mind all winter long.
          “Oh, you know Anders. She is doing well, but she moves slowly now.”
          Anders knew that this certainly was a sign of age in his mother. She had always been an energetic woman and seemed to be able to do the work of two women. He did not remember if she had been quite so active before his father had died, but afterwards, it seemed like she felt she must compensate for the loss of her husband and do the work of two.
          But if his mother was now moving slowly, Anders sure could not have told so by what he saw next. Anna Kristina had heard the shouting outside and stuck her head out the doorway to see if she could make out what all the commotion was. She had not heard what any of the words were that were spoken, only that there was excitement.
          With one glimpse of what was occurring outside, Anna Kristina instantly knew what was happening. The older woman came running, holding up her apron with her hands so that she would not trip. Their mother covered that ground between the torp and Anders not much slower than Eva had.
          “Anders!” she screamed with obvious gladness. She did not bowl Anders over with her hug, but it was no less lively than Eva’s. She also was a small woman, so Anders had to bend down so that she could give him a kiss.


The kettle was already hot, so once inside, Anna Kristina began to make a hot barley drink. Anders' family never had coffee when they were growing up. In fact, Anders did not know what coffee was until he left home. Coffee was an expensive commodity and not common among the poorer people of Sweden.
          But Anders had brought home a surprise. On his way through Karlstad, he had stopped at a shop and bought a bag of coffee as a present for his mother. As Anna Kristina was about to put some roasted barley into the hot water, Anders gave her the gift. His mother chuckled with delight. Now, they would have coffee.
          Anders had been gone less than a year, but it seemed like there was so much to catch up on. Anders, being one of the youngest of the children, had seen most of his brothers and sisters settle into a life and career some time ago.


(Next time I will tell about one of Anders' brothers)

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