Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Folk Sayings #2

"Sammy"--Virginia's Explore Park, Roanoke, Virginia

 Some scholars are like donkeys, they merely carry a lot of  books.

A hair from a horse's tail in running water will turn into a snake.

A new broom sweeps clean.

It is bad luck to kill a cricket. (I have let crickets drive me crazy chirping in the house rather than risk harming them!)

 As big as I don't know what.  (So big that you can't even begin to compare it with something.  "That pumpkin is as big as I don't know what!")

As easy as rolling off a log. (Something that is very simple to do.)

It is bad luck to hear a hen crow; kill her at once. (Grandma always talked about grabbing up hens that crowed and wringing their neck to avoid having bad luck.)

As full as a tick. (This one has always sort of grossed me out because of the image in my mind of a blood-filled tick!)

It is bad luck to open an umbrella inside the house.

As good as gold.

As pleased as Punch.  (I had never really thought about this saying even though I use it all of the time.  Of course, it refers to the puppet character, Mr. Punch of "Punch & Judy" fame.)

It is bad luck to rock an empty rocking chair. (I used to get chastised often at my grandmother's house for rocking empty chairs.)

Between me and you and the gate post. ("Now, I am going to tell you something that is just between me and you and the gate post."  I have also heard fence post instead of gate post.)

A ring around the moon indicates snow is on the way.  The number of stars inside the ring tells how many inches.

It is bad luck to cut cornbread. You should always break off a piece.  (We always broke cornbread at home.  I started to use a knife one time and grandma put a stop to that immediately!)

Cool as a cucumber.

Proud as a peacock.


  1. Oh my. I use so many of these!

    Pawpaw always told me it was bad luck to let someone else close a pocket knife you had opened. He who opened it should close it.

    Smoke on the ground means snow's a-comin'.

    Leaves turned upside down means a mean storm is a-comin'.

    The wooly bear can predict winter--you can tell by looking at his black and brown bands. Black means bad weather/winter and brown means mild.

    Oh, and have you heard the one about a women walking through the cuke patch during a certain time of the month?

    I just LOVE these posts! Pawpaw's been gone since 2001 and it's wonderful for me to just sit and listen for him and his voice and remember. :o) Thanks for that. :o)

  2. Oh, one more--sorry.

    Cows a-lyin' down in the field means bad weather's a-brewin'.

  3. Oh Rach! I love the ones that you posted! I have heard all of those. My grandmother told me that I should stay out of the garden completely during that time of the month. She was also a big believer in planting by the signs.

    I am very superstitious about the open/closed pocketknife. I have handed mine to people with the blade open and they hand it back closed and I have refused to take it until they open it back up!

    My grandmother died in 2001, as did my dad. (That was the last of my immediate family) and doing these posts brings back SO many good memories.

    I fear that we are starting to lose much of our heritage because society seems to be becoming so homogenized. Maybe I can help preserve just a tiny portion!

  4. I have heard of these and use most of them too. Drives me nuts that my 15 year old daughter kills crickets! She just does not get it, lol.

    Let's see, I remember some morbid ones from growing up. ~~ If crows gather around a house, someone there is going to die. ~~ If you dream of a wedding, someone is going to die but if you dream of a funeral, someone is getting married.

    Also, if squirrels make their homes high in the trees it's going to be a rough winter. But if they make them lower it will be a milder winter.

  5. Practical, I too have heard about the squirrel nests and the crows. :o) And, we don't kill crickets in our house! :oP

    Kimberly, my mom's people are all yankees, but, my papa's people were from SW Va. Pawpaw was a fount of folk wisdom, knowledge and sayings. In fact, when I was in one of my education classes in college, they were trying to show us how life experiences have an impact on how children perform on tests and they gave us a "Hillbilly" test. I passed! The rest of the class was astounded and the prof looked at me all goggled-eyed. ;o)

    I expected folks to start making fun (Papa and Pawpaw both always lamented the "Beverly Hillbillies" saying they ruined the country's view of folks from Appalachia) but instead, they were really intrigued. :o)

    I agree we are all becoming rather homogenized and it saddens me as well. But, folks like you are doing what they can to document and save the Appalachian culture, and I thank you. Did you, by any chance, catch the PBS program on Appalachia a while back? Here is a link to the series in case you missed it. It was wonderful!

  6. Practical--I have always loved the morbid ones! Here are a couple more that I have heard:
    If a bird flies into your house, someone will die. If you hear a screech owl near your house, someone will die.

    I also love the ones about weather. I am going to have to try to remember some.

    Rach--I would just LOVE to be able to take the "Hillbilly" test! I minored in Appalachian Studies and one of the things that we talked about in several of the classes were the stereotypes and the images that they placed in the minds of mainstream America. A girl that I met in college, upon finding out where I grew up, immediately ask me if we had running water, indoor toilets and telephones. She was VERY surprised that we had those items! LOL!!!

  7. Hmmm, after giving this some thought, I suppose a lot of things like we've shared here I (and those who live where I do, like I do) don't really think of these things as folk knowledge. Or that we're trying to save a dying hillbilly culture. ;-) I mean sure, I know if I dream of a wedding that doesn't mean someone is going to die. But...we do still look to things like where the squirrels are building their homes and the state of the wooly worms to gauge how much winter prep we need to be doing. I guess what I'm trying to say is that for some of us it's not about saving our culture because we are still very much living it!

    I know that suburbanites living in cookie cutter houses and mcmansions is the "norm" now days. But I can promise you, there is still a certain percentage of us still living in the boondocks carrying on the old ways and those old ways are our normal. Not only that, but we have kids coming up who have also totally embraced this way of life. Sure, some leave to find their happiness in other places doing other things in a concrete jungle. And that's fine. We still love them and will be their soft place to fall should they need it. But I have to say that we've got many good old boys and girls coming up that love a more agrarian lifestyle and would sooner take a lick at a snake than spend their life behind a desk for 40 hours a week only to go home to a mcmansion.

    The world of hay fields and wood stoves is still very much alive. You just have to go down the road a piece to find it. :-)

  8. I have to agree with everything that you say, Practical! For me, I am still living it also, even though I do live in a city. I have deer, foxes, owls, hawks, and all kinds of critters right in my backyard. I cook from scratch and still grow some of my vegetables and herbs. That is mainly because my property backs up to the Blue Ridge Parkway. I am so lucky!

    I think that one of the things that drives me to post all of the things that I do is two-fold.

    1. I do not have any children, so I do not have anyone to pass anything on. (I am an only child, too, so no nieces or nephews either.)

    2. For almost 20 years, I worked as a historical interpreter at living history sites where I got to share all of this with people on a daily basis. Now, I work in a library and I never get to share this info. So, this is a release for me.

    I wish that I could move back to the mountains.

  9. Loved all of them : ) I've heard most-but not all.

  10. I've never heard the one about the ring around the moon one...that could be because I'm from Florida. And the one about the hen crowing...ouch, harsh! :)

  11. M--I think that the one about the hen may have just been an excuse to have a tasty chicken dinner!


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