It's Saint Patrick's Day...Have You Got Your Green On?

Why wear green on saint patricks day or be pinched

When I think of Saint Patrick's Day the first thing that comes to mind is if you don't wear green you'll get pinched.

I remember the day being a big deal when I was in elementary school. Everyone had to make sure to remember to wear green-or suffer the consequences. 

After I started the Blind Pig and The Acorn I came across the saying that if someone pinched you when you did have green on, you get to pinch them back 10 times. I wish I had known that when I was in middle school. 

One time I asked Granny and Pap if pinching for not wearing green went on when they were kids. They both said they didn't even know there was a Saint Patrick's Day until they were grown.

Over the years a few of you have left comments about the tradition of wearing green on Saint Patrick's Day.

Tim Hassell: I remember getting pinched if you didn't wear green or if you did wear green it was an opportunity for the kids to cut up. Mostly I remember Saint Patrick's Day as the day we planted "Arsh potatoes".

Ken Roper: Tipper, Out of respect for the Irish Tradition I try to wear something green on St. Patrick's Day. I'm like Pap, never heard of this pinching stuff growing up. But my daddy sure could pinch. One time in Church my brother got me to noticing a wasper bumping his head on the ceiling. That got me to sniggerin' and here come daddy. He caught us by the ears and out the door we went. After we came back in, that wasper wasn't funny anymore.

Ron Banks: Top O' the morning to ye! I found this in regard to getting pinched on St. Patrick's Day. "Forgot to wear green on St. Patty’s Day? Don’t be surprised if you get pinched. No surprise, it’s an entirely American tradition that probably started in the early 1700s. St. Patrick’s revelers thought wearing green made one invisible to leprechauns, fairy creatures who would pinch anyone they could see (anyone not wearing green). People began pinching those who didn’t wear green as a reminder that leprechauns would sneak up and pinch green-abstainers."

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I've heard of other folks planting their arsh potatoes on Saint Patrick's Day like Tim's family.

Ken's story about his daddy reminds me of the time I pinched one of the girls in church to warn them they better settle down. Of course she yelled out "Ouch don't pinch me Momma!" 

Thanks to Ron-I know I need to wear green today so I'll be invisible to those sneaky leprechauns.

Tipper

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Fairy Cross

The legend of fairy crosses in brasstown nc

Fairy Cross found in Brasstown, NC

Mountain Bred: The Fairy Crosses - Brasstown written by John Parris

Even the Fairies in the Great Smokies wept when Christ died. And the tears they spilled turned to stone and formed tiny crosses-symbols of the Crucifixion. That is the story old Indians tell.

For the skeptical, the Cherokee will show you the tiny crosses to prove the story they tell-a story that has been handed down through almost 2,000 years of telling. No human hand carved these crosses, which lie scattered upon the earth near here. And nowhere else in all the Cherokee land will you find them except at this one spot in the Clay County hills.

I first heard the story of the fairy crosses many years ago, but it was only recently that I went searching for the spot where the strange miracle occurred.

A friend of mine, Lynn Gault, led me to the spot and I have a hundred or more of the tiny crosses which I picked up to prove they do exist. But unless you know what you are seeking you probably would never notice them, for they are the color of the earth and at first glance look like so many pebbles. The little crosses only become significant when the story about them is told.

And the story the Cherokee tell is a story that rightfully belongs in the treasury of world folklore and myth and legend. 

"My people," said Arsene Thompson, "have told the story through the ages about the crosses. It is a beautiful story." 

Arsene is a Cherokee Indian preacher who plays the role of Elias Boudinot, the Indian missionary, in the Cherokee Indian drama, "Unto These Hills."

"Yes," said Arsene, "it is a strange story. And this is what the old men told me when I was a boy. When the world was young there lived in these mountains a race of little people. They were spirit people. Like the fairies you read about. Now, one day when these little people had gathered to dance and sing around a pool deep in the woods a spirit messenger arrived from a strange city far, far away in the Land of the Dawn. But soon the dancing and singing stopped, for the messenger brought them sad tidings. The messenger told them Christ was dead. The little people were silent, then they were sad. And as they listened to the story of how Christ had died on the Cross, they wept and their tears fell upon the earth and turned into small stones. But the stones were neither round nor square. Each was in the form of a beautiful little cross. Hundreds of tears fell to earth and turned into tiny stone crosses, but the little people were so dazed and heartbroken they did not notice what was happening. So with the joy gone from their hearts, they wandered away into the forest to their homes. But around the spot where they had been dancing and singing, where they had stopped to shed their tears, the ground was covered with these symbols of the death of Christ."

What happened to the little people? I asked. Are they still here in the mountains? Has anyone ever seen them?

"No one knows for sure what happened to them," said Arsene. "I first heard the story when I was a boy and the old men of the tribe who told it to me said that after that day the little people were never seen again. But the old men said that on still nights you could hear them whispering along the river and that when there was a gentle breeze their sighs could be heard in the tall trees."

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I don't remember where I first heard the legend of the fairy cross, but it seems like I was very young when someone told me about it. I'm thinking it might have been Pap. There was a gentleman along his oil route that collected Cherokee artifacts and one time he sent home a fairy cross with Pap for us kids. 

One of the girls found the fairy cross in the photo at the place in Brasstown that Parris described. Although he states that's the only area that fairy crosses can be found, I believe there is a place in Fannin County GA where the rocks are common too. 

Ever found a fairy cross?

Tipper

*Source: Mountain Bred: The Fairy Crosses - Brasstown written by John Parris

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Appalachia Through My Eyes - The Maker Faire

My life in appalachia the maker faire

Chatter and Chitter lead the Maker Costume Parade

This is the second year the girls and I have been part of The Learning Center's Maker Faire. Here's how the school explains it's annual Maker Faire:

"At TLC! we have always emphasized learning by doing. Our E-STEAM curriculum runs on the power of student-driven creations. We know that the act of making, tinkering, fiddling, and fixing sparks a deep curiosity in all of us. 

 As we prepare our students to enter a 21st Century job market, we know that we must now expose them to the technology and innovation skills they will use in the future. We want to prepare our students to be life-long MAKERS as well as life-long learners. The act of making contributes to community and drives the entrepreneurial spirit that leads to positive change in our world."

Over 70 makers participated in the Maker Faire this year. Participants showcased their expertise with food, blacksmithing, bonsai gardening, jewelry, weaving, crotchet, game programming, painting, genealogy, history and lore, music, gardening, woodworking, pvc pipe bows, handmade boats, and a whole lot more!

We are all makers in some way, shape, or form. I love that TLC! is making such a great effort to foster and encourage the makers in their school family and the community at large.

Tipper

Appalachia Through My Eyes - A series of photographs from my life in Southern Appalachia.

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Late Spring Snow of March 17, 1936

Today's guest post was written by Charles Fletcher.

Blizzard March 17 1936 Haywood County NC

Henson Cove area of Haywood County NC - March 1993 Blizzard

THE LATE SPRING SNOW OF MARCH 17,1936 written by Charles Fletcher

March 17, 1936 -- One of the worst snowstorms of the century swept across Asheville and Western North Carolina. Snowdrifts up to 8 feet high buried parked cars in the city and caused hazardous driving through the area.

I was thirteen years old, and my younger brother, T.J., was eleven at the time of the late spring snow of March 17th, 1936. We went to the new school called Beaverdam Elementary School which was about one-half mile away from where we lived. Our house was located on a hill above a graveyard, and as might be expected, it was referred to as “Graveyard Hill”.

On March 15th at noon the snow was coming down very hard, so the school closed at noon and sent everyone home. The snow continued very hard from Friday until Sunday night.

My dad was working in the paper mill at Canton, and the mill’s supervisors asked all the employees who were working to stay and not go home. They wanted to be sure that they would have someone to keep the mill running and not have to shut it down.

Like most of the people who lived in the mountains of Western North Carolina, my family were always prepared for the unexpected problems that come up every now and then. They always had plenty of food that they preserved in the summer and plenty of firewood on hand to keep the house warm and the cook-stove hot so they could cook three meals every day.

Although we didn’t have the things that children and adults have nowadays to keep themselves entertained, we managed very well with the things we had. We read, told stories, and played games, and Mom would read us Bible stories.

On Monday morning we asked Mom if we could go back to school. We would have to walk the half-mile to school because we lived less than the two-mile distance from the school which would qualify us to ride the school bus. After Mom made sure we had enough clothes on so we wouldn’t freeze, she let us leave for school if we promised that if the snow was too deep we would come back home.

The snow was up higher than our heads on the route we normally took to school, so we walked the ridges where the wind had blown off the snow. When we came down off the ridges, we walked on the sides of the road where the snow had been blown back to the high side of the road.

Burt Robinson’s house was the closest house to the school, and he was the janitor and caretaker for the school. When we got near the school, we could see black smoke coming from the coal-fired furnace that heated the water that circulated through pipes to heat the school rooms. We knew that Burt was at the school.

When we reached the school, we headed straight to the boiler-room where Bert spent most of his time during the school day. He had his candy store in the boiler-room. Students could come in and buy an all-day sugar daddy for a penny.

When we entered the boiler-room, Burt asked what we were doing at school. He told us that there wouldn’t be any classes for the better part of a week and that we should go on back home before it started snowing again.

When we got back to our house, Dad was home. He had walked the ridges where the snow had blown off just like my younger brother and I had done.

This spring snow set back farming for the year and did lots of damage to trees. There was also at least one death that was known about when a man who was our neighbor (name withheld) lost his life from what was called “cold sleepiness”. In cold sleepiness the body temperature gets low, and the mind tells a person to go to sleep. Once asleep, the person freezes to death.

I am now 95 years old, and I have seen many big snow storms, but I will never forget the spring snow of March 17, 1936.

Charles Fletcher

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Now that was a big snow! I hope you enjoyed Charles's snowy memories as much as I did.

Tipper

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Ann Applegarth's Irish Soda Bread

Irish Soda Bread from Appalachia best recipe

Back in 2015 Blind Pig Reader Ann Applegarth left the following comment on a post I wrote about Irish Soda Bread:

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Try this BEST EVER recipe from the cookbook THE COMMONSENSE KITCHEN.  It is delicious warm, and
the next day makes the best toast!

Joan's Irish Soda Bread

3 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
2 cups buttermilk
2 eggs
2 Tbsp. caraway seeds (traditional, but I don't use)
2 Tbsp. canola or other vegetable oil
1-1/2 cup raisins

Whisk (or sift) dry ingredients together in big bowl.
Whisk buttermilk, eggs, oil, and seeds in small bowl. Add wet ingredients to dry; sprinkle raisins on top.  Mix ONLY until uniform -- do not over mix. Put in 2 greased and floured loaf pans. Bake at 350 for 30-35 min. or till toothpick comes out clean. Let rest 10 min. before turning out onto a rack to cool.

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Best irish soda bread for saint patricks day

Over the weekend I gave the recipe Ann shared a try and it was a hit with all the Blind Pig family!

There are many variations of Irish Soda Bread and the more traditional ones typically don't have the addition of raisins or caraway seeds and are baked in more of a free form circle shape instead of in a loaf pan. There is a legend that a cross was cut in the top of the bread before baking to ward off evil spirits. If you're interested in learning more about traditional Irish Soda Bread visit this page

Tipper

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The Pipes, The Pipes Are Calling

O Danny Boy

The song O Danny Boy is well known around the world sung by famous vocalists as well as around the family piano-or family guitar in the Blind Pig house. Folks are often reminded of the old ballad during the week of Saint Patrick's Day.

I researched O Danny Boy and discovered some interesting facts:

  • While the tune is indeed Irish-the words were written in England
  • There are varying opinions about the origin of the tune-some believe its as old as the 1600s
  • In about 1855 Jane Ross discovered the tune and passed it along to a collector of old Irish music, at that time the tune was called Londonderry Air
  • Many songwriters tried to add words to the music but nothing seemed to fit the mournful tune
  • In the 1800s the tune made it to America along with Irish immigrants
  • About 1912 a Mrs. Weatherly heard the song in Colorado, she sent the music back to England to her brother-n-law who was a songwriter
  • Mr. Weatherly had already penned the words to Danny Boy but had never found the right melody-now he had it
  • When Mr. Weatherly put the old Irish tune to his words a hit that would last through the ages was created
  • To read more about the fascinating story behind the song check out this page

I believe O Danny Boy appeals to the masses because the song evokes the strong emotion of longing for someone you love and miss-a truly common theme of mankind.

For me personally, the song transcends location. If I replace the word glen with holler I would swear the words were written about my mountains and the high graveyards that rest on many of them.

In the same way, you could substitute the descriptive words with hills, dunes, or whatever topography you live near and feel as though it was written just down the road from you.

For this Pickin' & Grinnin' In The Kitchen Spot O Danny Boy. I want to encourage you to watch the video. Paul sings the original 2nd verse which most performers leave out. No matter how many times I hear the 2nd verse I get chills...every last time. 

2nd verse:

But when you come and all the flowers are dying If I am dead as then I well may be You'll come and find the place where I am lying And kneel and say a prayer there for me And I will hear though soft you tread above me And all my grave will warmer sweeter be For you will bend and whisper that you love me And I shall rest in Peace until you come to me

Tipper

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Weather

1993 blizzard in haywood county nc

Tipper - March 1993 Blizzard Haywood County NC

Have you heard it's supposed to snow tonight over much of Appalachia? Things are budded and bloomed all over western NC and now the meteorologists are predicting snow and freezing temps for the coming week. 

Folks who live in the southern mountains of Appalachia know well and good this is how spring can be: tempting warmth that makes you think old man winter has left till next year and chilling temperatures that make you acknowledge you should have known old man winter wasn't ready to move out yet. 

I first heard about the expected snow earlier this week when Ed Ammons left a comment saying snow was forecasted for his area and that he was going to try his best to turn it towards me. Ed has obviously picked up on my love for snow as I'm sure most of you have as well.

People who are old enough to remember are still talking about the great blizzard that hit in March of 1993. I was living in Haywood County NC in those days. The electricity didn't go off where I was at, but back here in Brasstown Granny and Pap were without power for well over a week.

The heavy snow and driving winds nigh on to destroyed the woods and all those downed trees took a whole lot of power lines and poles with them.

I don't think we'll be seeing another blizzard tonight, but I am keeping my fingers crossed for a big snow. 

If your interested in finding out more about weather signs and folklore from Appalachia check out the links below!

Tipper

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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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March is...

March in Appalachia is

"March is a pair of bluebirds checking out the nesting site they used last year and the year before - the same one which was used by parents and grandparents before them.

It's red and salmon blooms on flowering quince at an old home place.

It's the growl of a roto-tiller, the smell of freshly-turned soil, and thoughts of creamed corn with thick slices of tomatoes.

March is a walk up Bradley Fork with sunshine on your back and wind blown snowflakes peppering your face."

~Don Casada 2016

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Tipper

p.s. The Pressley Girls will be playing 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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