On Wednesday night, Mom, Heather and I pulled into the driveway at Pine Hill, the family homestead in western Massachusetts.

The house is white with a sharp peaked roof and green shutters. Surrounding the house, like pillars in a Greek temple, stand the pine trees. I used to play among them with the cousins. We would hide behind the huge trunks for games of kick the can, and swing from the massive limbs on rope swings.

A picture of my great-grandfather Anders Anderson, a Swedish immigrant and piano factory worker, stands on the dresser. He built this house. His family lived in New York City, but during summers they would come to Pine Hill, where the towering pines reminded him of Sweden. He died in the little Bronx apartment of a lung disease exacerbated by the city pollution. His hand prints, however, remain here forever.

I sit at the table in the dining room and listen to the Sibelius violin concerto on the old Motorola radio. Earlier, I went to fill a glass vase with laurel. The leaves showered me with raindrops from yesterday’s downpour. I look out the picture window at Grandma’s overgrown rock garden and into the woods beyond. The tree canopies form a kaleidoscope: blue-green fringes of hemlock mix with smooth yellow-green of oak. Down below, young pines, almost Christmas tree size, bristle up toward the sun. Ferns point and lean gracefully, like bird feathers. Moss – brown, blue and mustard – climbs over the rocks. Baby maple trees poke up their red, tender leaves. I can barely see the path heading into the deep woods, carpeted with golden pine needles. Patches of sun and sky peek through. Tree limbs sway in gentle breaths of wind.

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