Leaf Music

2 12 2009

Swish, swish.  Swish, swish.  The leaves woke up, flying knee-high, while I walked through the overflowing sidewalk under a flaming pear tree as the sun snuck over the horizon.  December 1st.  Even though Thanksgiving leftovers are still in the fridge and Christmas lights are already strung along rooflines, autumn continues here in Indiana.  The leaves’ wonderfully acrid claim on                    the crisp morning air confirms it.

Sidewalk leaves

Their pungent scent and the swish, swish around my ankles always remind me of fall when I was young walking on hidden sidewalks in need of raking after school, and running across the blanketed yard toward my dad’s leaf mountain.  Swishy, swishy, swishy, swish!  In one jump his hard-earned mountain exploded leaving an ill-defined molehill.

The penalty for destroying his work?  Helping rake.  Our yard seemed to be the size of Tiger Stadium with every bit of the field concealed under the leaves from first base (a giant poplar), to third base (a small maple), and all the way ’round to home plate (one of two shag-bark hickories, which provided hickory nut snacks for baseball players and leaf rakers alike).

Swish, swish.  Swish, swish.

“Dad, do you hear the music?” I asked, raking my portion of the infield.

“Huh? What’re you talking about?”

I stopped to face him, my head cocked to one side with my rakeless hand on one hip.  “The music!  Can’t you hear it?  Listen.”  I started raking again, this time singing so he couldn’t miss the obvious tune of “The Happy Wanderer” in the rhythm of my strokes.

Single leaf

Such beauty!

This morning an early-raking gentleman already had a waist-high leaf-mountain during my early morning walk through our neighborhood.  We each smiled, nodded a “Good morning,” both enjoying the newness of the day with its invigorating air as we got in some exercise before breakfast.

I heard the music in his raking.  Swish, swish.  And in my long strides through the fallen leaves.  Swish, swish.  Swish, swish.

Approaching the corner at the end of the block, a young lady pulled her car up to the intersection, and my music stopped.  Her music carried well through the still morning air, and mine faded like the mist each breath made as I continued toward her.  She looked happy, bouncing to the beat, singing herself into a new day, her voice lost in the bassy thump-thumping.

My music gradually came back.  Swish, swish.  And I liked it better.  Swish, swish.  Swish, swish.

“Hark, the Herald Angels Sing???”  But it’s still fall!  Where did that come from??

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2 responses

2 12 2009
Wanda Nanney

Cathy, you are amazing! God has given you so many beautiful gifts to share, Simple things like a tomato or the leaves we see daily become magnificent with your flowing words. Thank you.
Wanda Nanney

3 12 2009
cathyhowie

Thanks Wanda! God speaks very clearly to me through nature– when I’m listening! Hope to see you on Saturday!

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