W i n t e r

The leaves were falling from the great oak at the meadow's edge. They were falling from all the trees. One branch of the oak reached high above the others and stretched far out over the meadow. Two leaves clung to it's very tip. "It isn't the way it used to be." said one leaf to the other. "No," the other leaf answered. "So many of us have fallen off tonight we're almost the only ones left on the branch." "You never know who's going to go next," said the first leaf.

"Even when it was warm and the sun shone, a storm or a cloudburst would come sometimes, and many leaves were torn off, though they were still very young. You never know who's going to go next." "The sun hardly shines now," sighed the second leaf," and when it does, it gives no warmth. We must have warmth again." "Can it be true," said the first leaf, "can it really be true, that others come to take our places when we're gone and after them still others, and more and more?" "It really is true," whispered the second leaf. "We can't even begin to imagine it, it's beyond our powers." "It makes me very sad," added the first leaf. They were very silent a while.

Then the first leaf said quietly to itself, "Why must we fall?" The second leaf asked, "What happens to us when we have fallen?" "We sink down ." "What is under us?" The first leaf answered, "I don't know. Some say one thing, some another, but nobody knows." The second leaf asked, "Do we feel anything, do we know anything about ourselves when we're down there?" The first leaf answered, "Who knows? Not one of all those down there has ever come back to tell us about it." They were silent again.

Then the first leaf said tenderly to the other, "Don't worry so much about it you're trembling." "That's nothing," the second leaf answered, I tremble at the least thing now. I don't feel so sure of my hold as I used to." "Let's not talk any more about such things," said the first leaf. The other replied, "No, we'll let it be. But-what else shall we talk about?"

It was silent, but went on after a little while, "Which of us will go first?" "There's still plenty of time to worry about that," the other leaf said reassuringly. "Lets remember how beautiful it was, how wonderful, when the sun came out and shone so warmly that we thought we'd burst with life. Do you remember? And the morning dew and the mild and splendid nights .?

"Now the nights are dreadful," the second leaf complained, " and there is no end to them." "We shouldn't complain, " said the first leaf gently. "We've outlived many, many others." "Have I changed much?" asked the second leaf shyly. "Not in the least," the first leaf said. "You think so only because I've gotton to be so yellow and ugly. But it's different in your case." "You're fooling me," the second leaf said. "No, really," the first leaf answered eagerly, "believe me, you're as lovely as the day you were born. Here and there may be a little yellow spot. But it's hardly noticeable and makes you only more beautiful, believe me." "Thanks," whispered the second leaf, quite untouched. I don't believe you, not altogether, but I thank you because you're so kind. You've always been so kind to me. I'm just beginning to understand how kind you are.

"Hush," said the other leaf, and kept silent itself, for it was too troubled to talk any more. Then they were both silent. Hours passed. A moist wind blew, cold and hostile, through the treetops." "Ah, now," said the second leaf, "I " Then it's voice broke off. It was torn from it's place and spun down.

Winter had come.

From the book: "Bambi", by Felix Salten written in 1928


I first encountered the combination of Dvorak's New World Symphony (Going Home) and this chapter of Bambi while living in Detroit, Michigan in the 1960s. A personality, whose name escapes me, produced this on radio station WJR. You might play "Going Home" and read this aloud. It is impressive.


10/23/2005 - I rec'd a nice note with the following content:

Found your transcript of the excerpt from "The Conversation of the Leaves" and noticed your reference to Dvorak's New World as background music for the "conversation". In your notes you mention that the name of the personality on WJR escapes you, so I thought I would write and let you know that the personality was Ted Strasser who hosted a show called "Patterns in Music" on Sunday Mornings.

Just thought I'd let you know.

Ron Brown


5/14/2007 - I received a nice note with the following content:

Hi. Found the Reading of Felix Salten taken from Bambi on your website.

My father was Ted Strasser, who read that every year on WJR. It was his most requested reading.

Janet Vargas

Florida

Visit Patterns in Music information.


June 2007 - Janet Vargas allowed me to include a photo of Ted Strasser, and below it, a replica of a bench honoring Mr. and Mrs. Strasser.


November 2007 I received a nice note with the following content:

Thank you for including the text to 'Winter,' which Ted Strasser used to read so beautifully over the radio on WJR here in the Detroit area. I visit your site each year around Thanksgiving, because as I recall it was roughly Thanksgiving time that he would give this reading. This year I was surprised and pleased to see a photo of Ted and a memorial bench plaque, provided by his daughter, Janet Vargas. I was wondering if you or she (if you have her contact information) might have access to a recording of this reading, or at least know where such a recording might be obtained. It's so beautiful, and it reminds me so much of my parents, particularly as I was just a kid sitting with them in our car in front of church on a dismal autumn Sunday morning. My father wouldn't allow us to leave the car until the reading was through, and even then asked us to pause for a few moments of reflection. Well, I'm still reflecting, and my dad's now in his mid-80s, and I know the old leaf's not too far from 'spinning down' himself. Now that I'm the age he was as we were first listening to this, I would very much enjoy listening to it with him again, this autumn, before winter sets in. Any help you can provide will be greatly appreciated.
Respectfully,
J. Stone


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