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Monday, November 24, 2008

first frost at the cabin

I looked out at the pumpkin by my front door last week and saw it sprinkled with a wispy snow. It reminded me of this poem whose colorful language sounds so like the Appalachian region of East Tennessee. When we lived in Alabama, one of our favorite autumn events was "Homestead Hollow," a small, harvest festival held on an old country homestead. There were crafters' booths, a petting zoo, food vendors, and hot spiced cider. You could walk through the homestead grounds and there were people making soap, working with bees, and playing banjos and guitars. In the kitchen, there was all manner of dried fruits hanging from the rafters that had been prepared for the winter days. This poem "puts me in the mind" of a mountain family with their cabin full of summer's bounty gazing at the first drift of snow outside the window. Kind-of makes you want to sit in a pine rocker beside a rustic fireplace.


"When the Frost is on the Punkin"
(James Whitcomb Riley. 1853–1916)

When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock,
And you hear the kyouck and gobble of the struttin' turkey-cock,
And the clackin' of the guineys, and the cluckin' of the hens,
And the rooster's hallylooyer as he tiptoes on the fence;
O, it's then the time a feller is a-feelin' at his best,
With the risin' sun to greet him from a night of peaceful rest,
As he leaves the house, bareheaded, and goes out to feed the stock,
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock.

They's something kindo' harty-like about the atmusfere
When the heat of summer's over and the coolin' fall is here—
Of course we miss the flowers, and the blossoms on the trees,
And the mumble of the hummin'-birds and buzzin' of the bees;
But the air's so appetizin'; and the landscape through the haze
Of a crisp and sunny morning of the airly autumn days
Is a pictur' that no painter has the colorin' to mock—
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock.


The husky, rusty russel of the tossels of the corn,
And the raspin' of the tangled leaves as golden as the morn;
The stubble in the furries—kindo' lonesome-like, but still
A-preachin' sermuns to us of the barns they growed to fill;
The strawstack in the medder, and the reaper in the shed;
The hosses in their stalls below—the clover overhead!—
O, it sets my hart a-clickin' like the tickin' of a clock,
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock.

Then your apples all is gethered, and the ones a feller keeps
Is poured around the cellar-floor in red and yaller heaps;
And your cider-makin's over, and your wimmern-folks is through
With theyr mince and apple-butter, and theyr souse and sausage too!...
I don't know how to tell it—but ef such a thing could be
As the angels wantin' boardin', and they'd call around on me—
I'd want to 'commodate 'em—all the whole-indurin' flock—
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock.

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