5 Things Appalachia

5 Things

Seminole pumpkin growing in appalachia
1. I think I’ve harvested the last of the Seminole Pumpkins. I say I think because they did so good for us this year that I keep finding them hiding in the weeds. Blind Pig Reader Sheryl Paul generously shared the pumpkin seeds with me and boy am I glad she did.

To catch a falling leaf folklore
2. Remember last fall when John Parris taught us to catch a falling leaf to be free from colds all winter? Well I didn’t even have to try this fall. I was walking to my car after visiting Granny and this small leaf floated down around my head and curved right into my hand almost as if someone placed it there.

3. Granny has grown blue ageratum for as long as I can remember. It was one of the first plants she shared with me when I planted my own flowers, so I have it growing around the yard too. It’s never really been one of my favorite flowers. It isn’t that showy and probably most of my dislike for it comes from the time of year that it blooms.

By the time the ageratum blooms summer is so overgrown I’m ready for cold weather and a hard frost to push everything back. I had never wondered where Granny got her start of the plant, but the other day she told me the story.

She said when her and Pap only had Steve they lived in a house they rented from the Kings in Murphy. Pap’s mother, Marie, would come to town and baby-sit Steve while Granny worked. She said the Kings had blue ageratum growing in their yard and Mamaw Marie asked them for a piece of it. Mamaw brought it home to Brasstown and got it established. Years later when Pap and Granny were able to build their own house up the road from Mamaw Marie she shared her blue ageratum with Granny. Granny said “She shared it with me because after all she probably would of never had the flower if I hadn’t begged her to come and keep Steve for me.” I told Granny “Now that I know the story I’ll never again be able to pull up my blue ageratum with such abandon no matter where it spreads.

4. John Mac Kah is an amazing artist who is based in Asheville NC. He also teaches his craft to others. Back in the beginning of the summer the girls did some volunteer work for the John C. Campbell Folk School. One of their duties was to weed the beds outside of the art studio where John was teaching a class. Over the course of the week the girls got to know John and the other folks in the class. Each day Chitter would look at a painting John was working on to see what progress he had made since the day before.

Pap and Chitter had a common love of westerns. Often they talked about the books Chitter was reading and about Pap’s favorites that he’d read over the years. One of the last books they talked about was Zane Grey’s Lost Wagon Train.

One day as Chitter checked on the progress of John’s painting she mentioned that she thought the scene look like it ought to be in a western. She went on to tell John about losing her Pap in the Spring and about the common love of westerns they shared.

Chitter didn’t see the painting again util the last day of the class. As the students and instructors across campus were gearing up for the show and tell event that concludes all folk school class weeks, John showed Chitter the finished painting. She couldn’t believe her eyes-there in the middle of the painting was a wagon train. She was tickled pink that he took her comment about the scene looking like it should be in a western to heart and added a wagon train.

She is still thrilled, humbled, and honored that he gifted her the beautiful painting in memory of her Pap-a man he never even met.

5. Even though I only stumbled upon it recently, I’ve pretty much fallen in love with a song called Elzic’s Farewell. Go here to hear the song played by Lynn Shaw who is an amazing fiddler and a friend. I’ve already put my request in for Chitter to learn it so I can hear it any time I want to.


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  • Reply
    Pam Danner
    October 5, 2016 at 11:05 am

    What a wonderful painting and a special gift John Mac Kah gave to Chitter! I love that he painted a wagon train in the painting, it really is beautiful! I’m sure Chitter will cherish it always!

  • Reply
    Rev. RB
    October 4, 2016 at 8:33 pm

    Ageratums were one of my favorite flowers as a child. Our Maternal Grandmother grew them in the flower garden at her little yellow house, and I just loved their blue color.
    The painting is beautiful and reminds me a little bit of a small one I did as a child with colored pencils. I won some kind of award with it from a local newspaper. I have it still in the scrapbook our mother kept for me.
    We have a hurricane headed our way, so we’ll be on the computer hit and miss through the rest of the week as we batten down the hatches here at home and work extra hours at the store to help out with the rush on emergency supplies there.
    Prayers ya’all have a great week, and a safe one too.
    God bless.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    October 4, 2016 at 6:04 pm

    The little leaf was just trying to get a look at itself in that shiny ring! I think I can see the leaf, the treeline and the sky above it all reflected in there.

  • Reply
    Ethelene Dyer Jones
    October 4, 2016 at 5:29 pm

    Enjoyed reading “Five Things” and seeing the accompanying pictures.

  • Reply
    October 4, 2016 at 1:22 pm

    I kinda wish we had’ve had a girl in our family so mama would have someone to share her flower stories with. But that weren’t meant to be and boys just ain’t interested in that sort of thing. …Ken

  • Reply
    October 4, 2016 at 1:07 pm

    Well I just learned something about those flowers! I had no idea they bloom naturally at this time of year, because the only time I ever saw them growing up was when we went to plant flowers (bright red geraniums, blue ageratum, and petunias) on all the family graves every Spring, and then tend them throughout the summer. It just never crossed my mind to plant ageratum at home, but now I’m going to think about it. It would be nice to have that color right now.
    And Tipper, there have been shenanigans in my pumpkin patch! My fault; I didn’t completely latch a gate between the big garden and the paddock. You wouldn’t believe how much damage – in a very short time – many little rows of goat teeth can do on huge round pumpkins!

  • Reply
    October 4, 2016 at 11:01 am

    Vann-thanks for the link-wow your photo is great and it does seem similar!

  • Reply
    October 4, 2016 at 10:42 am

    Tamela-the pumpkins have a great pumpkin taste : ) They are on the small side-but I think being small makes them so much easier to handle.The skin is thin and doesn’t seem as tough as other pumpkins.The small size and thinner skin make for easier cutting for sure. I’m really pleased with the Seminole pumpkin from beginning to end. 

  • Reply
    Vann Helms
    October 4, 2016 at 9:56 am

    Blue Ageratum just appeared in my meadow a few years ago, and the lavender color is my favorite. Never knew what it was called. Thanks. Also, when I saw the painting, I couldn’t help sharing a link to my photo blog that has a pic I made of Tryon Mountain due south of Lake Lure along the South Carolina border. Uncanny resemblance.
    http://www.blueridgeimpressions.org Vann

  • Reply
    October 4, 2016 at 9:52 am

    Do you use seminole pumpkins like the “traditional” pumpkins? Is the taste different? If so, in what way? They seem to be very small – what is the proportion of meat/pulp to rind? Is the rind thick and tough or thin and easy to cut?

  • Reply
    B. Ruth
    October 4, 2016 at 8:56 am

    I just had to research the Seminole pumpkin you featured in todays post. Wow, no wonder it did so well for you. It says only to fertilize at planting and it will go on to grow up and over fences and ever almost. The article I read says it dies back where the pumpkin is produced but sends out nodules and continues to vine and bloom to make more pumpkins. It has a long heritage. Actually growing wild in some parts of the country. Goes on to tell of the Indians love for this pumpkin and its use for drying and will keep for months. I think I will acquire some seeds for next year. Love the size of it also.
    That Maple leaf reminds me of the ones I did and sent to you a few years back. Remember! Just about the same size and everything! What a “cowinkydinky”. I have been thinking about you guys and the music/festival etc. for a while, maybe my subconscious just dropped you a Maple leaf! ha
    Your Ageratum looks like ours. I am not crazy about the short hybrid ones sold in the Spring. My Mother brought from NC many years ago a tall Ageratum that will appear to almost grow wild. I finally got used to the blooms in the Fall. It goes so well with bright yellow marigolds. Mother planted it where her old fashioned tall yellow and white mums were planted. If one looks around the wild flowers in nature golden and purple is a natural mix by Mother Nature.
    I love John Mac Kah’s painting. What a wonderful gift with so much meaning for Chitter! Maybe that wagon train is one of some that went on heading West instead of staying in the mountains. Mountain life was a tough go for our ancestors.
    Lynn Shaw is a great fiddler. Sometimes I feel so lazy that I never really stayed with totally learning an instrument. Even though I’ve picked up some others through the years after learning piano and lessons as a child, you have to have that “stick to it” mind set. I guess mine was the love of art!
    Thanks for this post Tipper
    When Chitter learns “Elzic’s Farewell”, you will need to post it too!
    Oh by the way, I play a mean radio, I can turn it on by heart! ha

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    October 4, 2016 at 8:52 am

    I had not thought of it before but back in the day I expect near every plant on a homeplace had a story behind it of a trade or a gift or an heirloom rather than having come from a store-bought seed pack or nursery. You illustrate that with two of your five things.
    If she has never read any of them, Chitter might like B M Bower. Not sure if they are available as print copies. They are out of copyright and out of print.
    We have a local artist, Nona Stephens (no relation), who paints mountain scenes. She painted a baptising scene of our church some years ago but it is not in her online gallery.
    Happy fall to all the BPA folks.

  • Reply
    Granny Sue
    October 4, 2016 at 8:31 am

    That painting–what a story! And what a generous heart that man has. The blue ageratum grows wild here. I’ve tried to coax it into my flowerbeds with no luck so now I am contented to just see it in its chosen habitat.
    About Elsic’s Farewell. It’s a favorite here in WV and many consider it a WV tune, although it was written by a man named Harvey Elswick who moved to WV from Kentucky. I love it, and have heard it played by many of Wv’s finest old-time musicians. Here’s a bit about the song: “Notes from Rattle on the Stovepipe’s album “No Use in Cryin”: “Kentucky-born fiddler Harvey G. Elswick wrote the original in 1889, reportedly playing it as a request for his dying mother. The tune entered aural tradition in West Virginia, where Elswick had moved in 1875, and French Carpenter, who died in 1964, handed it down to Wilson Douglas and Gaither Carlton. A legend that ‘Elzick’ was an ancestor of Carpenter’s, and had played the tune before marching away to fight in the Civil War, got added as an attachment. By the late twentieth century, as played by revival fiddlers like Ruthie Dornfeld, the tune lost a few bars here and there but gained a distinctive C-part. …” Check out Norman Blake’s version on YouTube.”

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    October 4, 2016 at 8:20 am

    No colds for Tipper this winter! The flowers are lovely and they wait till all the flashy things are through before they make their subtle appearance.
    I love the picture and I love the story behind it more!
    NICE fiddler!

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    October 4, 2016 at 7:58 am

    So glad you had a good crop of pumpkins, we here in FL do not have to plant every year, some times they just keep right on going.

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