They say that smell is the strongest connection to memory, but sounds can be vividly evocative. Last night, or maybe it was the night before, I listened to the wind blowing through the trees in the park in front of our apartment building. The leaves rustled in that autumn-approaching way. The rustle an indication of their increasing dessication, and approaching surrender.
The rustle suddenly took me back to growing up in our family home. It had a zinc roof and an enormous poplar tree that towered over the entire house. Its limbs seemed to protectively envelope the house, and when the wind blew in autumn, I remembered the sound of the branches bumping and scratching the roof. What may sounded alarming to one person, was soothing to me.
When the poplar tree shed its leaves in autumn, it was like weeks-long ‘rain’ of leaves. each individual leaf was enormous, even to an adult. We could rake everyday, day after day, without seeming to make a dent on the piles. (I loved raking.)
Of course the piles were great fun to play in, but it was good judgement to let the dogs check the leaf piles out first as they’d sometimes harbour snakes. More often than not red-lipped heralds that could spit and cause some problems if they got you in the eye, and sometimes, more rarely, dangerous snakes like puffadders. There was comfort in knowing that a spade or bamboo cane could dispatch the unwanted visitors or, worst case, administering the anti-serum that was always in the vegetable drawer of our fridge.
Now would also be the time to note that my mom still has that fridge! It’s a Fridigdaire and has valiantly been providing service for almost 40 years! I think I ought to write to the company and have them do a story about an amazingly resilient example of their product.. and maybe they’d replace it with a more modern one.
But I digress…
I recently took another, inadvertent aural time travel over bath time. Our little guy loves music and has an uncanny ability to be able to pick up a melody after two or three run throughs and sing it mostly on pitch. So I’m regularly requested to come up with something new to sing. (It’s also a great aid to brushing teeth!)
And what do you suppose has come to mind? Songs from my childhood, from choir, and anything in Latin. Bizarre. Even more interesting is having Calvin belt out, “Gloria, in excelsis Deo!” I think he’s also growing partial to the “Igitur” in Gaudeamus Igitur.
These impromptu, evening sing alongs have also made me realize that ye olde traditional drinking songs while extremely catchy tunes, are more than a little questionable from a certain standpoint. And to make it clear, I’m thinking of songs like, “Little Brown Jug,” which I recall singing with much gusto. Only now, upon revisiting the lyrics as an adult, do I realize what a miserable vignette of marital alcoholism it paints. And to think I felt quite bouyed belting out the, “Ha ha ha, hee hee hee, Little brown jug how I love thee” refrain. There’s much to recommend childhood.