- a warm misty Sunday morning, drizzle hangs in the air; leaves dressed in Sunday best reds and golds clatter and fall in the wind; the kind of wind that forewarns of a cold front on our doorstep.
Days such as yesterday, when the leaves of autumn let go to dance and twirl their way to the ground, I'm always cheered by the song my Mom taught all her girls. As my children arrived on the scene in mid 1980's, she wrote out the words for me.
Once again I became the little girl at the kitchen table, listening to the opening bars then singing along with her clear soprano voice. I see her eyes twinkling with delight; I feel the sheer joy that filled the room.
Looking on that rich image from the past, I now see that the song awoke the child in Mom too. I like to imagine her running and skipping along the streets of Thompsonville, Connecticut, scuffing through the leaves and singing of course. Mom always sang.
I took advantage of the weather doldrums yesterday and while the coq au vin in the slow cooker basked in silent contemplation, I chased down a few of these family history morsels. The fount of all knowledge, Google, led me to discover the original poem written by George Cooper (1840-1927), and later published in a primary school reader - McGuffey's Second Eclectic Reader - intended for grades 4 to 6. Wikipedia, (not always the fount of all truth), says that when it comes to sales, these Readers rank with the Bible and Webster's Dictionary with more than 120 million copies and growing. Apparently McGuffey's books are still used in some private schools and homeschooling. The "Preface" and "Introductory Matter" of the Second Reader are well worth a read for their emphasis on articulation and punctuation.
Lesson 43, "The Wind and the Leaves" shows Cooper's poem in full.
THE WIND AND THE LEAVES.1. "Come, little leaves," said the wind one day. "Come o'er the meadows with me, and play; Put on your dress of red and gold Summer is gone, and the days grow cold." 2. Soon as the leaves heard the wind's loud call, Down they came fluttering, one and all; Over the brown fields they danced and flew, Singing the soft little songs they knew. 3. "Cricket, good-by, we've been friends so long; Little brook, sing us your farewell song,-- Say you are sorry to see us go; Ah! you will miss us, right well we know. 4. "Dear little lambs, in your fleecy fold, Mother will keep you from harm and cold; Fondly we've watched you in vale and glade; Say, will you dream of our loving shade?" 5. Dancing and whirling, the little leaves went; Winter had called them, and they were content. Soon fast asleep in their earthy beds, The snow laid a coverlet over their heads.
Then I got to thinking about Mom's childhood home. Was it Enfield or Thompsonville? Once again Google showed me the way - first of all, Thompsonville is the downtown part of Enfield. A quick call to my sister Cathy, the fount of all family history knowledge, to ask if she knew the exact address of the house. Of course she did, 39 Garden Street. Back to Google and second of all bit of info, the house is clearly in the Thompsonville section of Enfield. Not only that but streetview displays this tidy two storey duplex, #39 is on the right (not the left where the red "A" is)
Could this really be the house? I can hear an outdoor screen door bang shut behind a little girl. I can hear the thump of her shoes on the wooden porch, before she bounds down the steps then off down the sidewalk.
And she's singing...
Come little leaves said the wind one day...
The house - Google Maps; Streetview
Text & other photos ©2013 April Hoeller