“Sunny Day… Sweepin’ the clouds away…
On my way to where the air is sweet…”
A sunny Sunday afternoon. The sky was clear and the air was warm with just the hint of a crisp autumn breeze. The golden rays of an October sky filtered through the red, orange, yellow, brown leaves making the world – the whole world of a child – seem to glow.
Do you remember those scenes when they play some sentimental, but gently upbeat music while families are picnicking in the park, playing games, riding bikes, and generally happy to be together and at peace with themselves and the world?
I felt like I needed a soundtrack. A moment etched in memory all these years later. I so wish that I had some way to capture this moment in time (besides my imperfect memory) when everything seemed like a scene out of Sesame Street.
My mom and aunt had taken the boys to the park to play while baby girl napped. I planned to meet up with them once she woke. I headed down the path to find my boys and found my mom sitting with a small bag stuffed full of huge multi-colored leaves. She had been given strict orders to look after the leaves by my 4-year-old while he went off to play.
His marvelous plan was to sell them after a little while longer of running, jumping, climbing, sliding, and scheming. He often tried to think of ways that he could earn a little extra something – money, treats, time.
Love that entrepreneurial spirit, but selling leaves?
Running over to us breathlessly when he saw that I had arrived with his sister, he wanted to tell me all about his great plans to sell the leaves and decided that now was the time.
The first was to go to my aunt. He chose a specific golden beauty from a Big Leaf Maple that was just for her. He gave it to her with great pride and enthusiasm about his first sale. I suppose at his young age, giving is just as good as selling. He chose another for my mom and one for me.
But he didn’t stop there.
We watched as he approached a little girl swinging on her little tummy and hand her a leaf. She accepted it with once free hand and continued swinging, only now with an enormous grin on her little face.
He ran over to where the little girl’s mom was sitting and gave her a giant leaf tinged with a fiery red. He ambled over to more kids, more adults and gave away more of the leaves he had so carefully collected and chosen for each person.
He recruited another boy to help present leaves to anyone else enjoying the sunny day at the park. He was a much older boy that I first might have been concerned he would make fun of my son or otherwise treat him and his leaves badly. I needn’t have worried. He handled each leaf with care as if they were prized possessions.
After a sigh of contentment that my son was having such a wonderful time, I turned away for a bit to play and chat. It didn’t take long for me to scan the park again and I noticed something that filled my heart with a joy I can’t quite describe.
Every single person in the park that day, whether they were young or old or somewhere in between, had a leaf in their hand and a smile on their face.
And every person kept them in hand.
It was a perfectly simple moment in time when people were enjoying the warm sun in the middle of fall, enjoying the day and being outside, and choosing to indulge a 4 year old’s wish to give everyone a leaf and a bit of himself in the process.
I could almost hear the music drowning out all the other noise. The noise of the cars, the squeaky swings, the children running, the people talking. All I could see was a moment of pure peace and happiness through a child’s eye.
“Can you tell me how to get,
How to get to Sesame Street…”