A Month of Short Stories 2015, Day Fifteen – A White Heron

The last two years, for the month of June, I wrote about a short story that was available online each day of the month… you can see the list for 2014 and 2015 in the comments for this page. It seemed like a good idea at the time. My blog readership fell precipitously and nobody seemed to give a damn about what I was doing – which was a surprising amount of work.

Because of this result, I’m going to do it again this year.

Today’s story, for day fifteen – A White Heron, by Sarah Orne Jewett
Read it online here:

A White Heron

Day fifteen, halfway through. So much to read, so little time.

Today we go back into the past – A White Heron was written in 1886. Its themes, however, of city and country life, of man and nature, and of being faithful to one’s own instincts are as valid today as ever.

Sarah Orne Jewett was best known as a regional writer who produced works of “local color” describing the rural coast of Maine. The finely tuned descriptions of nature and the people of the area are the primary focus of her stories – the plot is secondary.

That’s the best way to read A White Heron – let the language take you to a specific time and place and don’t worry too much about what’s happening there.

Isn’t that among the best that a book can do?

Sylvia’s face was like a pale star, if one had seen it from the ground, when the last thorny bough was past, and she stood trembling and tired but wholly triumphant, high in the tree-top. Yes, there was the sea with the dawning sun making a golden dazzle over it, and toward that glorious east flew two hawks with slow-moving pinions. How low they looked in the air from that height when one had only seen them before far up, and dark against the blue sky. Their gray feathers were as soft as moths; they seemed only a little way from the tree, and Sylvia felt as if she too could go flying away among the clouds. Westward, the woodlands and farms reached miles and miles into the distance; here and there were church steeples, and white villages, truly it was a vast and awesome world.

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