Years before I was born, Grandma T (that Grandma) would sometimes invite her parents, the Eissmans, up to our family lake cottages in New Hampshire. The lake and sky agreed with my great-grandfather Kurt, transporting him back to the days of his boyhood in Germany, when he was ein Jüngling mit lockigem Haar etc, and he announced:

“I am going to hunt mushrooms!”


Vociferously did everyone point out to Great-grandpa that the mushrooms of New Hampshire are not the mushrooms of Europe, and that it had been quite a while since he had engaged in this activity and perhaps his ability to distinguish between certain types would not be as keen as it had been. He ignored them, and spent the day blissfully tramping around the woods, recreating memories of youth.

Come dinnertime, there was Great-grandpa Kurt with a big plate of mushrooms in front of him.

“Would any of you like to try some?” he would say, offering the plate around. Everybody skooshed back like it was made of plutonium. So he ate all of them himself, savoring every last bite. The rest of the family could do nothing, but watch, and wait for him to die.

But he never did (well, not from the mushrooms). With a mortal risk, he got a tiny bit of his childhood back, across decades of time and an ocean of distance.