Two Jaybirds

Jay bird word usage in appalachia

Jaybird noun A blue jay, used in various similes.
1913 Kephart Our Sthn High 107 He’s as antic as a jay bird when he takes the notion. 1940 Hauns Hawk’s Done 7 There’s always the jay birds trying to take a bath in the water bucket. 1952 Brown NC Folklore 1,431 As happy as a jaybird … As naked as a picked jaybird … As naked as a jaybird’s ass … As saucy as a jaybird … Git along about as well as a jaybird does with a sparrer hawk … As spry as a jaybird in wild cherry time. 1956 Hall Coll. Del Rio TN As naked as a jay bird. (Wilford Metcalf) 1962 Dykeman Tall Woman 95 Mark’s always speaking of her eyes too; and the way she clings to him, the way she’s so quick to walk, and talks already like a jaybird chattering-well, he thinks she’s mighty nigh perfection itself.

Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English

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I live with two jaybirds. Even though they're sillier than any jaybird I ever did see-I wouldn't trade them for the world and all it holds.

Tipper

p.s. The Pressley Girls will be performing Sudnay April 30, 2017 @ 11:00 a.m. Hayesville Church of the Nazarene - Hayesville NC

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Ruminations on Ramps

Today's guest post was written by Jim Casada.

Ramps

Ruminations on Ramps by Jim Casada - Copyright 2016

The humble ramp, a traditional wild mountain vegetable of early spring which is fairly widely dispersed in the forest understory at higher elevations, today often garners mention in menus of restaurants famed for haute cuisine. Rest assured any usage involves the vegetable after it has been cooked, for the high-brow epicures who frequent such establishments have no idea of the true nature of the ramp. In its pure, undefiled, raw state, the way hardy mountain folks have enjoyed it for generations, the ramp is at once a delightful delicacy and the embodiment of gag-inducing noxiousness.

Though mild tasting, even in its raw state, when eaten uncooked the ramp has a pungent after-effect that by comparison makes garlic seem a pantywaist pretender in the odiferous sweepstakes. Moreover, raw ramps are a potent purgative, once widely favored as a spring tonic and with properties guaranteed, as my Grandfather Joe used to put it, “set you free.”

My initial experience with ramps came when I was a 5th grade student at Bryson City Elementary School. A classmate showed up on a Monday after having enjoyed, in his words, “a bait of ramps” on Saturday. Never mind the passage of a day and a half, the lingering after-effect of his weekend feast was of a potency defying description. He literally emptied the classroom and sent the harried young teacher, whose educational training apparently omitted the chapter on how to deal with this particular disciplinary dilemma, scurrying down the hall to the principal’s office.

The result was one which would be repeated numerous times over the course of my educational experience. As was the case when some poor soul showed up with a “case of head lice,” the smelly offender was sent home for a three-day vacation. No rules had been violated and no laws had been broken. It was simply a situation where the welfare of the community--his classmates and indeed anyone who happened to be downwind for an appreciable distance--took precedence over that of the individual.

This sort of situation happened with increasing frequency as I entered high school, with the offensive offender invariably earned a temporary reprieve from the educational process. Some of the enforced absences were intentional while others involved nothing more than a family indulging in a long-established gustatory rite of spring—one that ranked right along spring tonics such as drinking sassafras tea or taking a dose of sulfur and molasses.

Eventually yours truly became involved in the consumption side of the ramp equation, albeit my first time was a matter of self-defense. A group of us boys who were avid fly fishermen decided to celebrate trout season’s opening day with a weekend camping trip. As we backpacked to our campsite one member of the party noticed a hillside covered with ramps and stopped to harvest several dozen of them. In camp he cleaned and chopped the ramps, scattered them over a plate of branch lettuce (saxifrage) he had found growing at creek side, and dressed the salad with hot grease and bacon bits. He proclaimed this “kilt sallet” delicious.

Truth be told, it didn’t matter whether the offering from nature’s abundant bounty was supremely tasty or odious to God and man alike. All of us were sharing a big tent and had no choice except to follow our companion’s dietary example. Once you have eaten ramps the noxious odor that seems to permeate the atmosphere for 30 yards in every direction magically disappears. We knew that, and soon enough all of us had a nice ramp salad to go with our trout and fried ‘taters. It provided the necessary refuge from an aroma that falls somewhere in the nasal spectrum with unwashed athletic socks, stump water, skunk cabbage, or a mid-summer garbage dump. One is almost tempted to wonder if that explains why ramp festivals have long enjoyed such popularity--everyone in attendance consumes the featured vegetable in sheer self-preservation.

For all my numerous personal adventures with ramps, my favorite tale connected with the wild vegetable comes from a stunt perpetrated decades ago by the editor of the Richmond (VA) Times-Dispatch. He had his printers prepare a special batch of ink that included the juice from raw ramps and use it on a run of newspapers to be mailed through the U. S. Postal Service. Postal authorities may have persevered with their motto stating “neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers form the swift completion of their appointed rounds,” but they were not at all amused with this situation. Indeed, eau de ramp stopped them in their tracks.

Cooked ramps are perfectly fine, and when scrambled with eggs or included in a batch of hash-browned potatoes they proved first-rate breakfast fare readily passing the smell test. But for the pure of heart and brave of palate, with ramps the raw route is the only road to travel. Just be advised that if you opt for this exercise in culinary adventure and wish to retain friends or keep your marriage intact, the slender, onion-like bulbs are best consumed with kindred spirits or somewhere back of beyond where you won’t return to civilization and the company of others for at least 72 hours.

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I hope you enjoyed Jim's post as much as I did!

Tipper

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Bloodroot Information from the Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English

Bloodroot information from appalachia

bloodroot noun A perennial wild plant (Sanguinaria canadensis); the red juice from its root is used to make a medicinal tea and a dye. The plant is often grown for sale. Same as coon root, puccoon, red Indian paint. 

1901 Lounsberry Southern Wild Flowers 197 To the Indian the plant was known as the "red puccoon." They used its highly colored juice in war time to paint their faces and also to dye many materials for their baskets. In medicine it it still employed domestically as an expectorant. 1937 Hyatt Marthy Lou's  Kiverlid 99 In them days most persons got poke berry juice fer writing' with, or sometimes they'd use puccoon root-blood root they called hit-but hit would soon fade down. 1940 Caton Wildflowers of Smokies 2 It derives its name from the fact that the juice of both stem and root is reddish, the stems "bleeding" when broken. 1962 Brewer Hiking 59 Trailing arbutus, Dutchman's breeches, bloodroot, trillium, violets and several other wildflowers bloom there in April. 1962 Dykeman Tall Woman 169 But she would spy out their secrets-bloodroot and yellow ragwort, snakeroot and wild ginger, the cohoshes and lady's slippers, and most particularly that root of the gineseng. 1970 Campbell et al. Smoky Mt Wildflowers 18 The roots contain an orange-red sap, which accounts for the common name. 1971 Krochmal et al. Medicinal Plants Appal 226 [The juice] is an emetic, laxative, and emmenagogue; and because of its expectorant qualities, it has been used to treat chronic bronchitis. This plant is used both as a pain reliever and a sedative. When combined with oak bark, the roots give a red dye. In Appalachia, a piece of bloodroot is sometimes carried as a charm to ward off evil spirits. 1972 Cooper NC Mt Folklore 12 Yellow dock, mandrake, poke root, blood root and black cohosh were used as alternatives to tone up the system and establish a health condition. 1982 Stupka Wildflowers 39 The rootstock that gives this plant its name is 1/2-1 in. thick and up to 4 in. long, and contains a bright orange-red juice, said to have been used medicinally as a tonic and stimulant....Among its other names are "puccoon-root" and "red Indian paint."

Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English

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If you missed my post about the bloodroot that blooms around my mountain holler go here

Tipper
 
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Spring is Chancy

Spring of the year can be chancy one day its cold one day its warm

"Spring was chancy, but she liked it best of all the seasons. One day would be still and soft with the sun flowing like honey along the hillsides, over the brown winter leaves and the tender green things peeping through, with time slow and the bees buzzing somewhere in the sunshine-forever, forever-and the next day fierce, with the wind tearing through the woods in gusts, shaking the last of dry oak leaves, bending treetops, piercing every crevice of house and clothing with a bitter chill, and time rushing with it down the valley."

Wilma Dykeman - The Tall Woman

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"With the wind tearing through the woods in gusts, shaking the last of dry oak leaves, bending treetops, piercing every crevice of house and clothing with a bitter chill, and time rushing with it down the valley." Yep that pretty much sums up yesterday and today in Brasstown. As she said, Spring is chancy. 

Tipper

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Appalachian Vocabulary Test 98

  Appalachian vocabulary test 98

It's time for this month's Appalachian Vocabulary Test. I'm sharing a few videos to let you hear some of the words. To start the videos, click on them and then to stop them click on them again. 

 

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1. Ideal: idea "I have a great ideal, let's all go down at Granny's and eat. I know she'll have something good for dinner she always does and I'm starving!"

2. Idee: idea "I've got an idee he'll be back before dark. He always thinks plowing their gardens will take longer than it does."

 

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3. Iffen: if. "Iffen you'll drink more water ever day I know you'll feel better."

 

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4. Ill: angry. "I don't know what's got her all fired up but she's as ill as a hornet."

5. Importanest: most important. "I'd like to tell him I know he growed up just like me and he ain't the importanest person in Brasstown even if he thinks he is."

All of this month's words are beyond common in my area of Appalachia. Hope you'll leave me a comment and tell me how you did on the test!

Tipper

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Was

Appalachian grammar the word was

was verb past tense of be, used with both plural nouns and plural pronouns as its subject. [OED dates this usage from the 14th century; DARE labels this usage "especially South, Midland" in the U.S.]
1801 Meigs Journal 4 A Spectator even without knowing the Language would be convinced that matters was well arranged. 1866 Elijoy Minutes 110 [T]he meeting lasted 16 days & nights during which time there was 27 baptised & there was 48 Joined the church. 1939 Hall Coll. (Cataloochee NC) We went over and put us up a still, and we was a-making some awful good [liquor]. It was so good you could taste the gal's feet in it that hoed the corn it was made out of. 1939 Hall Coll. (Sugarlands TN) They'd bunch up if you was sick and come work your corn for you and make quiltings and roll logs and grubbings, one thing and another, and help you when you was sick and disabled or you couldn't help yourself, but they don't do that anymore. 1969 GSMNP-44:12 They come from Ireland. They was Scot Irish. 1973 GSMNP-76:15 You had to work the roads six days a [year] after you was twenty-one years old. 1974 GSMNP-50:1:23 We was poor folks and hired out [to] get enough money to buy cloth to make me a dress. They didn't have dresses made up in the stores then.

~Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English

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The was usage described in the dictionary entry is beyond common in my area of Appalachia right down to my house household and my own mouth. 

There are two quotes from the dictionary that caught my eye:

1939 Hall Coll. (Cataloochee NC) We went over and put us up a still, and we was a-making some awful good [liquor]. It was so good you could taste the gal's feet in it that hoed the corn it was made out of. 

1939 Hall Coll. (Sugarlands TN) They'd bunch up if you was sick and come work your corn for you and make quiltings and roll logs and grubbings, one thing and another, and help you when you was sick and disabled or you couldn't help yourself, but they don't do that anymore. 

Tipper

p.s. The Pressley Girls will be playing tomorrow Saturday March 25 at 6:00 p.m. at the Martins Creek Community Center.

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Spring of the Year

Spring Mommy Goose Rhymes from the Mountains by Mike Norris

The poem above is from Mommy Goose Rhymes from the Mountains written by Mike Norris. 

I think Mike captured spring in Appalachia perfectly. You think it's warm, but the chill wind makes you quickly realize it's not!

Yesterday was the official first day of Spring. I feel like I'm so behind in my gardening endeavors that I may never catch up. I'm secretly hoping the cold weather stays just a little bit longer so that I can have more time to do what needs to be done before Old Man Winter is gone for good.

Tipper

p.s. Rhymes from the Mountains CD is now available on iTunes, Spotify, Amazon, Google Music, and a bunch more places online. Check it out on iTunes and listen to samples of the tracks here: 
http://itunes.apple.com/album/id1160037010?ls=1&app=itunes

If you have the book without the CD, it's really not complete, as the song, narration, and 40-plus minute conversation with Minnie are a key part of the project. (And physical CDs can be ordered from Amazon.)

Bookstore versions of the book may be ordered many places online, but Amazon and The University Press of Ky [it's the university press of the whole state, not just UK] are two good sources.

p.s.s. The Pressley Girls will be playing Saturday March 25 at 6:00 p.m. at the Martins Creek Community Center.

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Do You Ever Stub Up?

Stub up

Chatter - 2004 Georgia

stub up verb phrase To become sullen.
1975 Chalmers Better 66 But should you contrary him, he may sull or stub up. 1999 Montgomery File, all stubbed up = become stubborn, uncopperative (55-year-old woman, Jefferson Co TN).

~Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English

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Chatter is the sweetest girl you ever seen! I'm sure I've told you, when she was just a toddler I started telling her she had a sweet gift. But let me tell you the girl can stub up like nobody you ever seen. Once she sets her mind to something there is no dissuading her. 

When I was young Pap was always telling me not to stub up nor be so toucheous about things. 

Tipper

p.s. The Pressley Girls will be playing TODAY Friday March 10 at 5:30 p.m. at Ranger's Elementary's Gospel Bluegrass & Barbecue. Tickets are on sale now $7.00 prepaid at the door they will be $10.00. Starts at 5:00 p.m.

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Miller = Moth

A miller is a moth

miller noun  A small moth having powdery scales on its wings and often attracted to light.
1883 Zeigler and Grosscup Heart of Alleghanies 115 Here, in the still waters under a bridging log, or in some hole amid the exposed water-sunk roots of the rhododendron, lie the king trout, during the middle of the day, on the watch for stray worms, or sill gnats, and millers which flit above, then drop in the waters, with as much wisdom and facility as they hover around and burn up in the candle flame. c1950 (in 2000 Oakley Roamin Man 74) I have a phebby bird that bilt its nest on the porch and my garden is near so the bird ketches all the bugs and millers that lay eggs on the garden stuff. 1986 Pederson et al. LAGS 12 of 42 (28.6%) of LAGS speakers using term were from E. Tenn. 1998 Montgomery Coll. (known to eight consultants). [so called from the resemblance of the powedery scales on the wings to the dust that accumulates at a ghrinding mll; OED miller1 2 1681 ->]

~Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English

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I grew up using the word miller to describe a moth. I don't think I ever heard Granny or Pap say anything but miller. It was only after I was an adult that I realized most folks say moth instead of miller.

One time I heard somebody say they had a miller fly up their nose and one of The Deer Hunter's friends said a miller flew in his ear and about drove him crazy fluttering around till he got to the doctor and let him pull it out. 

Tipper

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Have You Ever Had The Weak Trembles?

What to do for the weak trembles

weak trembles noun Tremor, general weakness of the body; anxiety. 
1913 Kephart Our Sthn High 227-28 But old Uncle Neddy Cyarter went to jump one of his own teeth out, one time, and missed the nail and mashed his nose with the hammer. He had the weak trembles. 1943 Justus Bluebird 21 When the old man went to the woods or the field to work for a good while he always took along a bite to eat, not because he got hungry, he said, but to keep his stomach from getting the "weak trembles" as he called them. 1952 Wilson Folk Speech NC 605 have the weak trembles = to be worried. 1984 Wilder You All Spoken 205 = weak and wobbly because of hunger or apprehension. 1990 Cavender Folk Medical Lex 33 = a feeling of general weakness associated with mild trembles of the body. 1994-97 Montgomery Coll. (known to ten consultants).

Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English

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I had the weak trembles at work one day last week. I felt like I could barely hold my head up, I was slightly dizzy, and sick at my stomach. My spell of weak trembles lasted much longer than usual and by dinner I had convinced myself I must be getting the flu. But I wasn't. After I eat a substantial meal and drank a coke instead of my usual glass of water I felt much better. 

Typically a saltine cracker or biscuit and a sip of coke is enough to bring me right out of the weak trembles. How about you?

Tipper

p.s. TODAY Thursday March 2, 2017 6:30 p.m. Don Casada will be presenting a history of the Bryson City Cemetery and stories of some of those who are buried there at the monthly meeting of The Swain County Historical and Genealogical Society meeting, everyone is welcome. Many of these people as well as the cemetery itself have played a significant role in the history and development of WNC. Info about the preservation and maintenance of the cemetery by Friends of the Bryson City Cemetery will also be included—Swain County Business Education Center 45 East Ridge Drive, Bryson City 28713 Conversation and Refreshments Following. All are welcome—No admission charge

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