Meadowlark up on the fence
Would you sing for fifty cents?
I only sing for free, says he,
For life is good and sweet to me.c e hollis
My childhood was idyllic. It was sweet. I know because my mother sang. She sang in the kitchen when she cooked for her large family. She sang while she hung dresses and petticoats and shirts and pants on the clothesline to dry. She sang while she weeded her flowerbeds of pansies, snapdragons, and gladiolas. She sang at church. She sang while she washed the supper dishes and at her sewing machine. She sang when she rocked us and put us to bed at night.
I love song birds. I hang up feeders to draw them so that I can watch them eating. I love to listen to them. I especially love the song of the red-winged blackbird a glug-agloo and the sound of an owl from the creek bank or a whipporwill’s call from the woods.
As children we used to like to sit on the rail fence in the evenings after supper and after we’d tired of playing tag and of chasing fireflies to put in Mason jars. That is where I learned to listen to the whippoorwills and bob whites. We sat quietly on the rails and listened to the night sounds: the crunch of autumn leaves, the wind waltzing in the treetops, the soft voices of neighbors on their porches, the bang of a screen door, a dog barking, the birdsong.
On Sundays there was music too. Jiggs played three harmonicas, the men’s quartet sang “Floods of joy o’re my soul like the sea billows roll…” Children sang “specials” like the Old Rugged Cross and a ladies’ trio sang the Christmas song “Emmanuel.” Dad sang too and people said he couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket––that he was tone deaf––but I liked his songs and his whistling.
On Fridays the teacher turned on a huge console radio. We sat at our desks, opened our song books and sang: The Happy Wanderer, O My Darlin’ Clementine, and Red River Valley. It was a favorite time for me each week.
At camp we sang around the flagpole in the morning, in line at the mess hall (Here we stand like birds in the wilderness waiting to be fed …) and around the campfire at night we sang Kum-ba-yah.
I am glad to hear the meadowlark sing poised on a fence post or on a strand of barbed wire. I too have a heart full of song. Life is good, and I think I must sing.
When I am discouraged, I can sing. When hard times come, I will be singing. When I am afraid, I will sing. When I am lonely, I will sing. When I am joyful, I will sing.
Yes, sing, for life is good and sweet to me.
To read more stories about Mama and about my childhood find my book, Life with Mama, on Amazon. (On sale this week just in time for Christmas giving.)
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