Misty Water-Colored Memories

I was a Girl Scout as a kid. I sold cookies, attended camps, learned useful things, and made good (albeit temporary) friends. My favorite part of the camping was always the singing, and I have lots of kind of funny, largely disgusting songs from those days still tucked away in my mind.  (Great Green Gobs of Greasy Grimy Gopher Guts for one.)  When I was at home, my mom and I would sing together a lot, usually songs from musicals or campfire songs. Songs with rounds and harmonies. She had a beautiful voice (to me).  She also sang with her mom and sisters when she was younger. (I say had, not has, only because her voice is not young and strong and clear anymore.)

One of my favorite memories with my mom:
My mom taught me a song that I don’t remember singing in the Girl Scouts, but trying to find it online came up with Girl Scout camp songs over and over.  So, maybe it is. Or, maybe it’s just a a “camp song” / old folk song, as it is song in three-part rounds, somewhat like “Michael, Row the Boat Ashore”. Anyway, here it is. This proves that children’s favorite memories don’t need to be of doing something special and unusual with their parents, it’s the interaction that is important, not the event.

My mom and I were doing the laundry together. I was approximately 10. She was teaching me how to open the door, quickly pull a couple of items out and then close and start it again, to keep wrinkles from forming. We would each make a quick grab before the door closed. While we were doing this in tandem for quite some time, she started to sing this song to me, then when i got the words and tune down, she sang in rounds with me, coming in at the break between verses. It’s a beautiful, haunting lullaby, and I have sung it to myself for many years now. I imagine that her sisters know it too, and possibly my cousins, though they are boys, no girl scouts in that group. Anyway, here it is:

Bed is too small for my tiredness,
Give me a hill topped with trees, (i have seen this online as “hilltop” and “hill topped” now, but I prefer the two word version.)
Tuck a cloud up under my chin,
Lord, blow the moon out please.

Rock me to sleep in a cradle of dreams,
Sing me a lullaby of leaves,
Tuck a cloud up under my chin,
Lord, blow the moon out please.

I don’t know enough about music to say what kind of a tune it is, other than to say that the notes are unusual, full of half notes and minor keys, yet it is easy to sing, as any camp song must be easy.

I just asked my sister-in-law if she knew the song and she didn’t (she’s a campgrounds person from way back), but she said that my “she (my mom) was recently writing music from her head onto blank sheet music to then play on the piano, so she might know what it was.”
My mother, who can’t remember what we just talked about 10 minutes ago, can write music from her head onto blank sheet music to play on the piano.
I don’t know whether to laugh or cry, so I’m doing both.



2 responses to “Misty Water-Colored Memories

  • mojomaven

    What memories.  I always liked “Alice the Camel.”  And how my grandma would get out her little “organ” (a small electric piano) and play old hymns; she would sing tenor, my mom alto, and me soprano.

  • breathelectric

    That was beautiful. My favorite old girl scout song is: “Black socks…they never get dirty, the longer you wear them, the blacker they get.  Someday I think I shall launder them, something keeps telling me don’t do it yet.  Not yet.  Not yet.  Not yet…”Sung (sang?) in a round, of course, and so on…

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