What I Know of Leaves

As a child, I loved autumn – the fallen leaves raked in piles on my lawn with their musty scent always thrilled me. I remember my Dad and I raked the leaves from around the entire yard to create the largest mound possible before plunging into the mountainous pile.

I still find great pleasure in the autumn leaves, but I haven’t jumped into a pile of them in quite some time. Perhaps I need to do that again. But these days I find myself admiring the colors and shapes of leaves. I enjoy the crunch of dried leaves beneath my feet as I cross the lawn and I still love their earthy scent. I enjoy watching the squirrels scamper through them as they seek to hide their treasures.

I think the leaves are my favorite part of the season. They seem to pair nicely with jeans, hooded sweatshirts, and hiking boots.

Upon the wind, they gather and play
dancing and swirling as though
they were a sign of youth and vigor
instead of the dying of another season.

Laying one upon the other
Shifting and stirring,
rustling with
each footfall and breath of the Earth.

Hues changing, ripening
with intense beauty and fading
into the background with age.

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Mountain

[In response to One Word Prompt]

As a child, my family and I took week-long camping vacations to Ricketts Glen State Park in the mountains. We’d spend the week encountering wildlife, hiking the trails and falls, roasting marshmallows over a campfire, swimming at the Lake Jean beach area, and biking around the camping loops. I loved every minute of it.

I remember one trip in particular that stands out. It was the summer I met Tom. Tom was an elderly gentleman who played the bagpipes at the wooded amphitheater across the water. He enjoyed playing there because of the acoustics. The beautiful and mysterious melodies that danced across the lake drew me in; I was entranced. I remember racing around the lake at dusk hoping to catch his evening performances. He was the first man I’d ever seen wearing a kilt and traditional Scottish regalia, and I was in awe of his bizarre plaid-bag-with sticks looking instrument and its oddly haunting sounds. I vaguely remember him letting me squeeze the bag and being delighted by the honk it made.

I wish I could say that I remember more about the man or that I’d somehow remained in contact, but that isn’t the case. I do, however, remember half expecting and later hoping to hear his music each year as we returned to our family camping spot. I don’t recall ever seeing him again though.

 

 

A Thank You to George S. Schmidt

Upon being asked recently when I began writing and who my favorite writers are, I recalled a specific book of poetry that I’ve kept in my collection for a considerable length of time and have periodically returned to throughout my life. I believe the book came to me around the age of 8 or 9, but how it became mine, I’m not entirely certain. Most likely I picked it up at a yard sale or library sale as I do know that it was not a new book when it came to me. Its pages had already begun to yellow at that point.

From the first time I read the book, there were some poems that I enjoyed. Not every verse was of interest to me (as is still the case), but one poem, “Sunlit Yesterdays,” stands out in this collection as a poem I’ve repeatedly read to the point of near memorization. I have no idea what exactly drew me to this particular poem as a child since it is the poet reflecting on his life in old age. But this poem has always drawn me in. There are a few others I’ve always enjoyed within the collection as well. The book is entitled Random Rhymes, which seems rather nondescript and ordinary.

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However, my most recent re-exploration of this book focused not so much on the poetry itself, but I was curious about the background of the book and its author. I made some interesting coincidental discoveries (exciting to me anyway), and I wanted to share them.

So the book was written by George S. Schmidt and it just so happens that he was from York, PA, which is only about 30-40 minutes away from where I live. This information intrigued me, and I have been digging for more details. The forward of his book indicated publication in 1928. I was able to find a copy of the book for sale on Amazon. Even more amazing, I learned that this was Schmidt’s second book of poetry, the first was entitled Vagrant Verses.  Mr. Schmidt was a business person and lawyer in York; he was born in 1861 and died in 1935.

George S. Schmidt appears to have had a sense of humor that I quite appreciate. In the forward he says, “I am transmitting this booklet to the individual members of the Order, and to a few other of my friends, at a time when their hearts are so throbbing with goodwill towards men, and their eyes too dazzled by the lights of Christmastide, that their vision is impaired, and the manifold defects in these random and disconnected rhymes may ‘to some extent’ escape them.” I find this amusing. It appears that he gave this book only to a small circle of friends (it was privately published) and told them that even though they received the book out of his love and affection for them, they were in no way obligated to read all of it or any of it for that matter. A man after my own heart, he was.

I am sure none of this is of interest to anyone besides myself. However, I can’t get over the idea that I’ve kept this book for over 20 years because it marked the beginning of my love for poetry and, in part, inspired me to write poetry myself. So for the past 15 years, I’ve been living within miles of the author’s hometown. The book traveled over a hundred miles to get to me as a child, only to land close to home once again.

So, in conclusion, I thank you my dear departed friend, George S. Schmidt for your many years of companionship. I have indeed read each poem in your collection, and though I do not like every poem, I do appreciate your work.