Hedda Burgemeister, September 1912
Figs. Figs. And more figs. The summer heat seems reluctant to yield to fall in any form, but figs are among the rewards. Hedda never imagined a climate mild enough to generate two crops of fruit in a single year.
Of course, the birds get most of them. Taunting her with their cheerful chirps, fig juice dripping from their beaks, they audaciously perch atop the shoulder of the scarecrow she stuffed last week. Her apron is again heavy with ripe ones, so perhaps there is enough to share.
Emmy will be impressed on her return to find their pantry shelves lined with jars of watermelon rind; bread and butter pickles; and both peach and fig preserves. Evenings spent in the kitchen keep loneliness at bay. Dr. Herff and Mrs. Hatzenbuehler gush over her gifts to them, and the neighbors insist she stop and chat when she drops jars off for them.
Drrrr-ring. “Telegram for Miss Burgemeister,” calls a young man stopping his bicycle on the other side of her gate.
As her hands are not free, he places the telegram atop the fruit.
“Please wait here, young man, for I have no change outside.”
“My grammy’d be the happiest woman alive if, instead, ma’am, you slipped some of those brown turkey figs into my haversack for me to take to her.”
Hedda obliges and thanks him before he speeds away.
Sitting upon the stoop, she opens the envelope.
Hedda lets the remaining figs tumble from her apron. They bounce down the stairs, scattering across the sidewalk and onto the lawn. As bruised as she suddenly feels.
The Author has a strong association with figs and preserves entwined in memories of one of her grandmothers. Nana was twenty-five in 1912, and figs were big.
Emma Dumpke was headed toward the altar shortly after the return trip across the Atlantic, according to later trial testimony. How she broke the news to her housemate is but a guess.