“The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth His handiwork.” (Psalms 19-1)
The Heavenly Father has smiled down on our hills today, with bright sunlight lighting up the yellow poplars and shining down on the orange and red maples. Pilot Knob is still mostly green, studded with the yellow, orange and red of the changing leaves. When the evening sunset glows in the west, and reflects on Pilot Knob, it lights up like a precious jewel with a myriad of colors. Perhaps it is more beautiful because it is so fleeting. Soon the autumn winds will strip the trees of their finery and lay them bare.
I was thinking of a favorite poem when I received a letter from a friend containing the same poem. He writes, “The enclosed poem is very old. My grandmother was born in 1888, and she learned it in school. When she was old, she could remember much of it—it stayed with her all those years.”
COME LITTLE LEAVES
By George Cooper
“Come, little leaves,” said the wind one day,–
“Come o’er the meadows with me and play;
Put on your dresses of red and gold:
Summer is gone, and the days grow cold.”
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.
“Cricket, good-by, we’ve been friends so long!
Little brook, sing us your fare well song,
Say you are sorry to see us go:
Ah, you will miss us, right well we know.
“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 your loving shade?”
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.
How we loved to play in the fallen leaves when we were kids! We would rake up a huge pile if them and then jump in them. Do you remember playing “Cock Robin?” We sang, “Cock Robin is dead, and laying in his grave . . .Boo hoo hoo!” (At the same time, someone was covered completely in leaves and lying quiet.) Then we sang, “There grew a tall apple tree over his head . . .Boo hoo hoo.” “The apples got ripe and ready to fall . . .Boo hoo hoo.” Last verse, “Cock Robin jumped up and started to run . . .Boo hoo hoo!” Of course we ran too, with Cock Robin in full pursuit. You never see children playing these old games now.
October was the month for our play parties. It wasn’t a formal party with invitations and such. It was all “word of mouth”—it was just passed around that we were ganging up at the Virginia Office building for a party. All it took was a bonfire and a group of lively youngsters. Sometimes we had it up on the Ball Diamond in the field there.
We didn’t need an excuse to have a play party. Summer was over, the garden was gone and hay was in the barn. We had worked hard through the summer, and it was time to have some fun. Daddy never allowed us to square dance, but looking back, there wasn’t much difference in our “ring games” and square dancing. The main difference was, we didn’t have square dance music (fiddles and banjos) but we sang the rhymes that went with the games.
I wonder if these old-timey games have died out? They are strange to my own children, but when I went to Clay Elementary School one time and taught the children some of the games, they loved them. Reaching back into my storehouse of memories, they were precious times when we gathered together and played these games.
I remember one party we had at Peggy Hanshaw’s house. There was a fat orange October moon shining down on the fallen leaves, the walnut tree had shed its leaves and was raising stark black arms to the sky. We were teenagers, and just beginning to taste the excitement of young courtship. Alas, so many of those kids who gathered there are gone. It is a bittersweet memory that tugs at the heart strings.
We sang and played, “Oh here comes Miss Molly Brown/ Show me the way to London town/ Stand you here, stand you there/ ‘Til you hear the watchman cry. Down upon your carpet kneel/ Kiss the fairest in the field/ As you rise, you must confess/ Kiss the one that you love best.” I loved those kissing games!
I can’t keep but feeling that today’s youngsters are missing so much of the fun we used to have. We didn’t need computer games and texting on iPhones to enjoy life. Instead of spectator sports, we were involved in all kinds of physical games. Old-fashioned? I reckon we were—but it was so good! I have no desire to live my life over, but when a mild October night comes, with an autumn moon hanging in the sky, I’d like to be 16 again for just one night.
I can hear Avis, Gerald and Betty singing, “Oh, the old dusty miller, and he lived on a hill/ He worked all day with a pretty good will/ One hand in the hopper and the other in a sack/ The ladies step forth and the gents turn back. Here we go a’sowing oats / And who will be the binder?/ I’ve lost my true love, and right here I’ll find her!” Oh, time–you’ve swept them away.
Lots of folks are getting ready to make apple butter, and my cousin Tony gave me his recipe. He uses an 18 quart electric roaster (as I do) and cooks his apples, puts them through a food mill or colander. As the apple sauce cooks down in the roaster, you can add more apples. It takes five pounds of sugar, two bottles of oil of cinnamon, and two packages of Brach’s red-hot cinnamon candies. (I don’t know about Tony, but I add my flavoring oil toward the last.) Cook and stir until it’s as thick as you like it. Can it and enjoy it on hot biscuits on a cold winter morning.
“Then summer fades and passes and October comes. We’ll smell smoke then, and feel an unexpected sharpness, a thrill of nervousness, swift elation, a sense of sadness and departure.” Thomas Wolfe