Harricun in Appalachia

hurricane noun
A variant forms harricane, harricun, herrycane
1942 Hall Phonetics 42 [harik'n].
1 A severe windstorm.
1834 Crockett Narrative 150 In the morning we concluded to go on with the boat to where a great harricane crossed the river, and blowed all the timber down into it. 1966 DARE = a destructive wind that blows straight (Cherokee NC). 1969 GSMNP-38:135 A windstorm, we called it the young hurricane. 1982 Powers and Hannah Cataloochee 421 He said that he wished they'd come a herrycane and blow the cranberry bushes out of the ground. 1995 Montgomery Coll. (Cardwell, Shields).
2 A growth of cane or other plant in an area where trees were appar leveled in the past by violent windstorm.
1834 Crockett Narrative 151 We cut out, and moved up to the harricane, where we stop'd for the night 1918 Combs Word-list South 34 = a thicket of cane or other underbrush. 1996 Montgomery Coll. (Adams, Cardwell, Ledford); = also refers to laurel thicket (Ellis).

Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English


Pap said the word hurricane like the noted variation harricun. I've heard other old timers say it like that too. A man I worked with back in the day in Haywood County NC said it that way and now that I think about it he was about the same age as Pap. 

When The Deer Hunter and I were first married and still living with Pap and Granny harricun Opal screamed through our surrounding area. 

With all the talk of hurricanes during the last few weeks the subject of Opal's damage has come up more than once at work. One lady's husband works for the electric company, she said Opal was a 500 pole event for Blue Ridge EMC. Pap's power was off for several days after the storm and if I remember right it was in late September or early October. 

I'll never forget the first time I walked up the creek after Opal. The trees were just laid over in places like a giant pushed them as if they were weeds in his way. There wasn't nothing to hurt up there, but down in the settlements a lot of trees fell on houses, cars, and of course power lines. 

Our area isn't expecting a lot of damage this go around and I'm thankful. But my heart sure goes out to all the folks who have been in the path of the recent hurricanes. I send them all God Speed. 


p.s. The Pressley Girls will be performing Friday September 22, 2017 @ 7:00 p.m. at the Historic Courthouse in Blairsville, GA. 

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Blackberry Winter

Blackberry winter

1962 Dykeman Tall Woman 14 And after the cold spell, when dogwoods bloomed, there would be whippoorwill winter and blackberry winter. "Dogwood winter" happens in April, but it is soon followed by another spell of cold called "blackberry winter," which occurs in May when blackberry briars put out their delicate flowers.


Blackberry winter is in full session in southern Appalachia. After a few weeks of 80 degree weather its been chilly this week with temps in the low 40s. In addition, a cold wind has been howling across the ridges and down through the hollers leaving fallen trees in some areas and leaves and branches littering the ground everywhere you look. 

From the time I was a little girl I knew about Blackberry Winter and Dogwood Winter too. I said I knew about them, I didn't say I always believed in them.

Of course when I was really young I never gave either any thought other than wishing they'd go away so summer, shorts, and swimming could arrive. 

During my late teenage years I was doubtful as to the truth of either of the spring winters. I suppose I thought of them as some quaint thing Granny had come up with to try and be colorful.

Once I was a mother putting my own hands into the good earth each spring as I tried to feed my family good wholesome things and save money at the same time, I began to pay much closer attention to the mountain holler I lived in. And what do you know, Granny and all those other folks who talked about Blackberry and Dogwood winter were right. It never fails, each spring when the Dogwood trees bloom there is a cold snap of weather that lasts a few days and every year when the Blackberry briars put out their white tease of sweetness to come there is a spell of cold weather that makes you wonder if spring of the year is really here.


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