A Harvest of Memories
By Alyssa Olmeda
Hi, I’m Alyssa. I’m excited to be able to present my work to you! I love nature, and I hope this piece is able to transport you all to the countryside with me.
It was a crisp fall night, and there was a chill in the air. The leaves were already changing into warm shades of reds and oranges as they littered the city ground. I got into the car with my brother, and we greeted our grandparents. We drove upstate in the blackness of the night that hugged every corner of the earth. After three hours that involved music, snacks, and frequent gas station stops, we arrived at my great uncle’s house. It stood tall and welcoming. Compared to the city, the air here felt light. I looked above me and stared at the millions of stars that shone in the night sky. As I walked towards the entrance of the house, the sound of nature rang in every direction. Crickets harmonized in the grass, owls with their occasional hoots, and the footsteps behind me stepping on the gravel. When I got inside, I was met with the comforting smell of wood. I drifted off to sleep and awoke to birds chirping, as the sun beamed through the windows. The warm glow of the sunlight kissed my face and I started my day. As I drank my coffee and sat on the back porch, I saw red cardinals flocking in the sky, eventually perching themselves on tree branches. A deer with her fawn warily ate grass in the nearby field, sensing my presence. As I observed this moment, all my worries eased away. My shoulders relaxed, my jaw unclenched, I closed my eyes and breathed in the crisp morning air of autumn. We spent our Saturday evening playing board games and sitting out on the deck, laughing and telling stories into the night. Sunday morning it was time to go home. I often dreaded these moments as the drive back to the city felt longer than the drive upstate. But alas, I rolled out of bed and my nose jubilantly met with the smell of coffee. I got dressed, packed my things, and headed downstairs. I went to sit on the back porch and turned my gaze over to the shrubs that were aligned behind the garden rocks. A chipmunk rustled through the bushes. My coffee mug kept my hands warm as the brisk air whipped all around, causing the tree branches to dance mighty and high. Taking the final sips of my coffee, I started walking towards the car. Traveling back to the city felt like the final moments of a vacation. You know it’s going to end, and you’re leaving paradise to return to your daily routine. Looking out the window, I took in the bare trees with the red and orange leaves littering the side of the highway. Those trees would soon be replaced with houses, and then eventually buildings that reached towards the sky. I could feel the air getting denser as the smell of gasoline and exhaust settled in. The car slowed down, and we slid even further into our seats as we sat in traffic. Eventually, we arrived in the Bronx, and it looked exactly as I had left it. I looked up at an empty sky, carrying the stars only in my memory.
Creating “A Harvest of Memories” came surprisingly easily during Girls Write Now’s Environmental Memoir workshop with environmental activist Kristy Drutman. We were prompted to write about a time when we felt connected to nature, and that’s when the inspiration struck. I began writing about one of the times I went upstate, and I was able to imagine it very vividly. From there, I met weekly with my mentor Carina and we made some minor edits. In two weeks, the piece was done and I was content with what I had produced.
Alyssa Olmeda is a lifelong writer who first began creating other worlds and characters in the third grade. Alyssa has spent the last few months reading and writing short stories and graphic novels, giving her words and imagery a palpable spark.