Dani's Niche

Family history. A novel idea.

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Fear and Beauty

The photo of little Don was taken in a cooler and less frightening time than depicted in his story.

Years ago my husband’s parents attended a writing class and discovered the power of the pen. Because of this, their children (and future generations) are blessed to have their stories from their perspectives. This month’s blog story was written by my father-in-law two years before he died at age 75.

I was four years old that warm summer morning in 1929. As I walked across the sandy field, I was overwhelmed by the perfume and coolness of grapes that hung over my head. I took a bunch between my hands and broke off one grape at a time, savoring their sweet and dusty flavor. My world was a paradise on earth. 

Continuing through that vineyard to my grandparents’ house, I walked by their chicken coop and sat down at the fenced enclosure watching the fidgety white hens pecking at their feed and squawking at each other. Suddenly, a large ferocious rooster flew at my face with all his speed and seeming intent to kill. My heart stood still with fear. My happiness changed into trembling and shaky panic. 

I ran in terror to my grandmother’s door. She calmed and comforted me with milk and cookies. When my grandfather arrived, he said that I must be cured of this fear, and that the cure was to take a live chicken and tie it around my neck for the rest of the day. Although he didn’t follow through with his threat, I had scary dreams during the next few weeks.

Several years later, on my first visit to Yosemite National Park, we stayed at a campground on the valley floor and took lots of hikes around the edges of the valley. Going upstream to Vernal and Nevada Falls, the beauty of this place filled me with awe and wonder. The roar of the waterfall and the wet spray on my face left an impression I’ve never forgotten. We then drove to the area of Glacier Point and hiked to the large rock overhanging the edge of the cliff. Looking straight down to the ant-like cars and people below, a momentary fear of falling quickly surfaced and was replaced by a feeling of being a part of this beautiful place.

As I look back on these childhood events, I wonder if there is a relationship between fear and beauty.

by Donald Gustafson, 1999

Dear reader, what do you think? Can you give examples from your experience of a relationship between fear and beauty? 

Write your story!