Tonight, just before supper time, 10 year-old Rosebud pulled up to the piano to play the song she had been working on today. It was "Yellow Ribbon".
After playing it, she announced the title of the piece and both Sudoku (17) and Doodle (12) got quizzical looks on their face.
"But Dad, that's not the way Zeb sang it!" they each said in their own way.
I was staring back at them like they were crazy.
It dawned on me that, in their memory, they had actually heard the big, calm cowboy Zeb, riding on his small horse, sing that tribute to Pike's Peak as the herds slowly wended their way through the ravines, in sight of the summit.
...when they were riding along with him back in about 1910.
Though I've probably read only 1% as many books to the kids as their mom has, I make up for it with my energy and craziness.
When I come to a song in a book, I sing it! If I don't know the tune, I make one! I march along with soldiers, do one-person re-enactments of bar fights, throw things, bite myself ... okay, well, I've never actually done that last one, pretty sure. But you get the idea.
Anyway, when we were reading this a few years back, I did the best I could to sing the Yellow Ribbon tune, but I missed it by ... a fur piece.
Nonetheless, I sang with conviction, and I imitated the drawl that Zeb was said to have. And, since that song appears many times in the text, my kids became quite familiar with my version.
And, magically, the kids heard Zeb himself singing through me. Like they were going back in time.
As Hank, Zeb's crotchety old compadre would say in his geezerly whine, "Back in my day, ..."
[thanks to Flickr's brando.n for the shot with Pike's Peak in the distance]