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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 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.