Kicking Leaves in
Mister Gage's Orchard
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Rustle of dry leaves underfoot was always part of
the wonderful feel of walking home from school.
Walking home through Mister Gage's orchard was
the most special part of walking home,
Kicking at the leaves,
Just kicking at the leaves and not pretending
to be doing anything else and
not thinking about anything else but
Just kicking at the leaves,
just feeling the crush of dry leaves underfoot in Mister Gage's orchard,
listening maybe to their rustle but not
having to think about that or
about anything else at all.
Just kicking at the leaves.
Once in a while a vagrant puff of wind would
pick up a leaf or two and send it spiralling off
into the stratosphere and
that would be the sign it was time to do a lot of
Kicking at the leaves, and
for just a moment or maybe
for half a just a moment
there would be a spiral filled with leaves and
not just an empty spiral of wind.
An apple showed its red cheek once in Mister Gage's orchard,
Middle of the winter but still no snow.
A red-cheeked Winesap showed itself in a rut full of leaves
in Mister Gage's orchard.
Kicking at the leaves paid dividends that day, red-cheeked dividends into my pockets before the squirrels could do their kicking at the leaves and carter off into their pockets
the red-cheeked Winesaps from Mr. Gage's orchard.
Kicking at the leaves in Mr. Gage's orchard was the best part of the day,
Kicking at the leaves on the way home from school.
--from "I Must Go Down" , a collection of wordsongs.by James N. Cummins. © 1995 .
Next door to our orchard south of Dix and about midway between home and school, Mr. Gage's orchard was a choice route for a schoolboy. About half the time, I'd walk to school that way, and half the time I'd walk along the dirt road. Coming home, lots of times I'd walk along the rails of the Southern Railroad, usually walk the rails, count how many lengths of rail I could cover before I'd fall off. But in the late fall and maybe winter too, oftimes I'd walk home through Mr. Gage's orchard, and that kicking of the leaves was a great deal of fun. Finding the Winesaps under the leaves was a big event and one to treasure, to savor for a while. Kicking leaves is still fun today, and when I see a pile of leaves in my own front yard, I don't even try to keep my feet from kicking leaves.