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calendar   Tuesday - July 29, 2014

Up Above The Gay Young Wind Of Spring

Of Interest To Almost No One



I am a reader. Always have been. A glutton for the printed word. Books gravitate towards me so much that every few years I have to give away boxes full of them.

While helping my best girl here clean out a bit more of her mother’s house, I found a copy of Heidi in the bottom of a closet. Two copies actually; the newer, brighter one a 1938 printing “based on the 1927 translation” of Johanna Spyri’s 1880 famous Swiss novel. The one I brought home is a non-illustrated (well, one simple drawing) version from Saalfield Publishing; my guess is that it’s 1928-1935ish. Cheap. Old yellowed paper, cloth over cardboard binding. Kind of the same era as books that were my parent’s when they were kids, or a wee bit older. Well used. Held together with ancient little yellowed bits of tape. Several generations of names written in pencil inside, the remains of a DIY “ex libris” card made from tape and notebook paper. A well beaten old volume, brittle pages not merely foxed, but weaseled and badgered as well. Anyway, to my surprise, I had never read the story. So home it came.

Best girl here works for eye doctors as a technician. She’s the one who gives you most of your eye exam, including the refraction which establishes your prescription, on the lensy thing called a phoropter. The thing known to the rest of us as “is it better now ... or now?”

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Yeah, that one. And one part of that test, for those that need it, is a bit called a near vision test (near point vision). This entails them placing a little card full of words of varying sizes on a rod that sticks out of the refractometer (or one of several other devices actually) 15” for you to read with your newly deduced prescription


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Sometimes, instead of a card of words clipped to the stick they’ve got a fancy one where you can spin in different symbols, alternate texts, etc. Makes it more versatile. Although generally, it seems to be the same text. And I know, because I read the things every week. Because the doctor’s offices I clean on the weekends are eye doctor’s, and they all have the same stick with the same rotating card with the same bit of text:

“Up above the gay young wind of spring was singing through the fir trees”

I’ve had a bit of fun with it because a) it does sound really gay; b) the job is lonely and boring and I wind up talking to myself sometimes.

So imagine my Big Moment when I was halfway through this antique children’s tale, and I came downstairs chuckling and declaimed this evocative and colorfully written passage to her

It was the month of May. From every height the full fresh streams of spring were flowing down into the valley.  The clear warm sunshine lay upon the mountain, which had turned green again.  The last snows had disappeared and the sun had already coaxed many of the flowers to show their bright heads above the grass.  Up above the gay young wind of spring was singing through the fir trees, and shaking down the old dark needles to make room for the new bright green ones that were soon to deck out the trees in their spring finery.  Higher up still the great bird went circling round in the blue ether as of old, while the golden sunshine lit up the grandfather’s hut, and all the ground about it was warm and dry again so that one might sit out where one liked. Heidi was at home again on the mountain, running backwards and forwards in her accustomed way, not knowing which spot was most delightful.

Ha, found it. It was in Heidi all along. We laughed.

Now to find that other snippet from the other side of the card, the one about sailing the boat along the coast for hours while on the lookout for cannibals. Seriously, these cards haven’t changed since the 1940s, I swear.

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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 07/29/2014 at 10:30 PM   
Filed Under: • Daily Life •  
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