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Gilman, James W. (ed.) / The Wisconsin literary magazine
Volume XIX, Number 5 (March 1920)

Schwinn, Walter K.
Album leaves,   pp. 117-118


Page 117

WISCONSIN LITERARY MAGAZINE
117
Album Leaves
(The Home Town)
I
SPRING. The young sun beats warm in the
south windows, and on the Latin teacher's desk
a small glass is filled with blue violets and pearly pink
and white dogtooths. A note is slyly passed; a few
words whispered; and after school the four of us set
out; up through the square, teeming with men and
muddy wagons; across the white bridge, underneath
which runs the swollen, dirty stream, carrying sticks
and branches on its roiled surface; through the via-
duct; past the water-works, chugging happily on the
sunny side of a south slope; over a low fence; and
then-into the country.
The ground is soft and resilient and damp under
our feet; above, the sky is blue and clear as an
amethyst bowl. There, atop a hill, a farmer is shout-
ing to his plodding team; from beneath his plow, the
rich earth turns brown and fallow. To each side of
the unfrequented road the budding trees and shrubs
show pale green, and, pushing through the moist
earth, the first shy flowers,-violets, Dutchmen's
breeches, and buttercups,-spring and bloom. We
stroll slowly on to the old bridge, on whose stones may
be seen the date 1873, and there we pause for a few
moments. Below, among the pebbles and slow mov-
ing water, great masses of water-cress are seen; we
boys tiptoe cautiously over the uncertain footing,
reach far, and return with masses of the dripping
green.
Then on. Other fences are crossed, we run down
a green slope, and up on the railroad fill, high above
the rest of the world. Here the breeze blows fresh
and bears a scent of drying earth; across on the hill,
and slightly below us, lies the little town. Out of
the many budding trees the Lincoln school tower
rises; there is the mansard roof of the Armstrong
mansion; there the evergreens make a dark, bright
spot about the Stowell place; and can't you see the
red tile of the new Congregational church? Far to
the north the stand-pipe stands tall and bright in the
sun; far west, past the town, the river flows down in
the valley, a silver stream disappearing in the golden
mist. Nearby a rooster lustily declaims his joy, and
the early birds twitter and chirp in the activities of
home making, everywhere one hears the myriad
busy sounds of renewing life.
But it is getting late; there is piano practising to
do; and we scramble down from our height and has-
ten down the winding road into the town.
It is summer,-and evening. The sun has set, but
the heat of the day still hangs heavy through the
deepening twilight. In the tall maples the locusts cry
shrilly. My father is in the front yard, sprinkling the
lawn and sidewalks, and I run barefoot through the
thick, damp grass. How warm the stones of the walk
feel after coming from the lawn!
Now my mother comes from the house and sits on
the porch beside the clematis vine. She wears a soft,
white, loose dress and leans her head against the back
of the willow rocker. The stars come slowly out and
tiny fireflies wind slowly in and out of the bushes
around the porch. I chase one through the dewy
grass. The choir is practising in the church a block
away, the soft, blended voices sounding sweetly
mysterious in the still, heavy air. The silence is broken
only by the singing and the creaking of the rocker.
A family surrey jogs slowly by.
Choir practise is soon over, and the girls in their
white dresses walk slowly past the house, talking in
low tones. I am tired and I creep near my mother;
now she holds me in her arms. A cool breeze rustles
the elm leaves ....
III
Supper is over; the dishes are wiped and put away.
I open the kitchen door, and slip out into the cool
autumn night; a touch of frost is in the air, and in the
east the sky is diffused by the golden glow of the ris-
ing moon. The pungent odor of smoke hangs in the
air. I go squashing through the brown dry heaps of
leaves. What fun to dive headlong into the yielding
pile !
My father comes from the house; he carries a rake
and pushes all the heap against the curb. Then, as
we youngsters stand breathless around him, he bends
and lights the mass; that small flame dies out, and so
does that one, but look, this one still burns and jumps
from leaf to leaf until the whole pile is a blaze of
leaping color, reaching far out into the street and
lighting all the yard with its flare.  See how   the
crooked shadows bend and swerve and hide from one
another. Then the fire burns lower, and we who
Amp 1920


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