Appalachia Appalachia Through My Eyes

Appalachia Through My Eyes – The Old Woman Is Losing Her Feathers

My life in appalachia the old woman is losing her feathers

The old woman is losing her feathers around the Blind Pig house. In case you didn’t know-that means it’s been snowing.

I have never heard anyone use the saying about the old woman losing her feathers to describe falling snow-but its an entry in my Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English.

When Paul was little he was a regular comedian. He did the cutest Howard Cosell impression you ever seen. I wish we’d had video cameras back then. About the same time that he was cracking people up with his Cosell jokes-he also had this elaborate story about how the reason it snowed was the clouds got soggy from rain and then fell from the sky. I can still see him standing at Granny Gazzie’s explaining it to a room full of people-Granny Gazzie, Aunt Faye, Uncle Woodrow, Uncle Byers, and Aunt Grace. Various other people were probably crammed into Granny Gazzie’s tiny living room too-Uncle Henry, Uncle Lucky, Aunt Jean, of course us, and probably a few cousins as well. Granny Gazzie’s was always crowded on Sunday afternoons. Paul was never backward like I was-he loved being in the lime light-while I preferred hiding behind Pap or Granny.


When we went to bed on Sunday January 5 it was 53 degrees. I’m an early bird-but was awaken by a call from work at about 9:30 or so. After doing what I needed to do for them I settled back in to sleep.

Then The Deer Hunter announces-you know we probably should move at least one vehicle to the bottom of the hill. After a little back and forth we decided to move both. Walking back up the drive in the dark I said there is no way we needed to move the cars its like summer out here. The Deer Hunter said you’ll see in the morning.

Before getting back into bed-a little after 10:30-I checked and it was 55 degrees. When I woke up at about 7:00 am the next morning-it was 24 degrees and snowing hard. A couple of hours later it was still snowing and the temp had dropped to 19 degrees and continued to drop throughout the day.

By this morning-January 7-the temperature has fallen all the way to zero.


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

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  • Reply
    January 7, 2014 at 10:32 pm

    Every year about this time cousins come down to Fla. from Tennessee and I’ll be John Browned if they don’t bring the cold with them. Said it was about 6 degrees when they left and the it went from like 80 to 29 by this morning here on the Space Coast! Supposed to be 80s again by Friday. I miss the snow!

  • Reply
    Vicki Lane
    January 7, 2014 at 8:57 pm

    We just did stay above zero here in Madison County — two woodstoves going all night. Brrr!

  • Reply
    Rev. RB
    January 7, 2014 at 6:04 pm

    High winds whipped around our house last night screaming like a banshee, blowing so hard it blew the heavy potted arborvitaes right off our porch. The cats didn’t like it, neither did the dog. We taped bubble wrap around the window A/C units, turned the heaters up, and hunkered down beneath the covers, snug as a bug in a rug.
    Praying for those though who don’t have those luxuries. I pray they find a safe warm haven somewhere. Surprised so many of the churches don’t open the doors 24/7 to provide warm spots for the needy during storms like this. Many, almost all do actually up north, often with volunteer congregants donating coffee and hot chocolate, sometimes along with donuts, pastries or sandwiches too.
    God bless.

  • Reply
    January 7, 2014 at 5:55 pm

    Lawrence county Alabama reporting in @ 6 deg. this morning,, brrrr.. Hope that ole lady keeps her feathers up there..

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    January 7, 2014 at 1:52 pm

    b.Ruth, if you will sponsor me, I’ll go over to Hawaii and just see if the weather is as nice as Garland claims. If I leave by tomorrow I can have a report by the end of March.

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    January 7, 2014 at 1:37 pm

    Had to remark on Bills comment…only I heard it ’bout the same way…
    “Mother Natures beatin’ and airin’ her feather tick!” and the one I heard from our home from many a year…”That wind will cut you to the bone”, you shore better button up that coat!” per Mom and Granny!…and
    Mrs. K…I also have heard/read about the German myth.. Frau Holle shaken her pillows and feather bed! Wish I had inquired more about myths from German relatives before they all passed!
    Thanks Tipper,

  • Reply
    January 7, 2014 at 1:29 pm

    My German Shepherd has never been in the house, but I was tempted to bring her in last night as the temp hit -3. Instead, I rigged up a blow dryer in her dog house, a converted playhouse with insulation and all. She stayed warmer than I did last night.
    Glad you finally got that snow you had been hoping for.

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    January 7, 2014 at 11:41 am

    It is very cold here this morning. We are keeping our fingers crossed that “all’s well that ends well” as far as the pipes are concerned, making it through the night…so far so good!…I think our sub-zero temperature this morning and with the chill factor (slight wind) was the true test!…The betterhalf wrapped a little extry insulation blanket on the outside “water spigot” yesterday just to help it stay a little warmer..,
    The birds are eatin’ up the suet cakes I made a week before Christmas like crazy. I put more out this morning! A little Chickadee actually gave up a wee weak sounding “Chickadee-dee-dee” song this morning, in the tree at the kitchen window, “bless it’s little thankful heart!”…More sweeter than those constant little peeps that they do in the winter..I guess when he saw the “sun and the suet” he thought better days are a’comin’…LOL
    “Sun and the Suet”, think I’ll just write me a song, since that would be such a good title…Copyright that! LOL
    It might get up to 21 degrees outside here today. Betterhalf just came by the computer and said it had warmed up one degree, now 68.9 in the kitchen, we keep our house cooler anyway!
    A water main has broken in my old secret city hometown, right near where my Mom lived…It has spewed water, quickley turned to ice, flooding and icing a four lane-four way intersection, in this mornings subzero temps!…
    The city crews are doing all they can to open up the main highway, which is critical for emergency vehicles, crossing the intersection from outside the city!!…I feel for those poor fellows working in ice, cold pipes and freezing mud in this cold! We, in this part of the South, are just not totally ready for this extreme weather!
    Thanks Tipper, keep warm!
    PS…”Light at the end of the tunnel” came in the form of two (2) Sow True Seed Catalogs in yesterdays mail…one for me and one for the better-half..LOL
    PS..#2 Tell that Garland to “hush his mouth” (Hawaiian temps) and go pick coconuts!” l

  • Reply
    Julie Hughes
    January 7, 2014 at 11:17 am

    Here in Phoenix we were a cool 46 degrees this morning, with a high of 65 predicted. I have tangelos on my tree in the backyard ready for the picking. On the other hand my brother in southern Indiana is looking at minus 8 degrees this morning. I do not miss the snow and cold. I have never heard the phrase women losing her feathers.

  • Reply
    Bill Burnett
    January 7, 2014 at 10:49 am

    Well, I always heard that snow was Mother Nature beating her Feather Tick. We had a skiff of snow yesterday but no more this morning. A friend of mine who lives on the head of Alarka had a Temp. of -8 last night but a heat wave has it up to zero at 10:30 here in Bryson City with occasional wind gusts that make it cut to the bone. I can testify that “Old Bones” do not like this weather. Stay warm folks.

  • Reply
    January 7, 2014 at 10:11 am

    I am here in the ST. Augustine, FL area and when I arose this morning at about seven a.m., it was 26 degrees. Some plants were blanketed overnight. We are to have another night tonight. The sun is shining brightly, however. My younger sister was the outgoing sibling; my brother and I were more quiet, except that my brother would try to snitch bread during the night and scare my mom half to death. She thought it was a prowler. My sister is ten years younger than I, and I am the middle one. Happiness is having a sibling who can be entertaining.

  • Reply
    January 7, 2014 at 10:09 am

    Sorry Tipper, it looks like you have gotten what we have had a lot of with the snow and zero and below-zero temperatures. Stay warm!

  • Reply
    Marc Kruger
    January 7, 2014 at 10:07 am

    Here in Greenville we have a temperature of -18 with wind chills of -45 to -50. The schools were closed yesterday and will be closed today to prevent frostbite. In a couple days we will be in the 30s. In weather like this I keep the bird feeder filled with seeds and suet blocks as the ground is snow covered and frozen. I lived in Dallas for about 5 years and grew to appreciate the mild winters there.

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    January 7, 2014 at 10:06 am

    I stayed here at the shop last night
    and I woke up with a dog and a bunch
    of cats trying to get warm off me.
    Bet I burned more wood than I usually
    do in three days. It was 1 degree here
    in Andrews, bet it was around -5 up
    at Topton.
    My oldest granddaughter, Traci, is
    still in labor down in Ga. They backed off on the Spinal-tap med.
    so she could get some rest and will
    resume today…Ken

  • Reply
    Mike McLain
    January 7, 2014 at 10:00 am

    I am in Brevard, NC, and somehow we have dodged the snow completely. Last Friday, all the schools around us were closed except for Transylvania County. The temperature this morning at 5:30 when the power went out was 3 degrees F. Power came back on about 8:45 and the sky is completely cloudless and it is that shade of blue that is so deep when the temperature is low.

  • Reply
    steve in tn
    January 7, 2014 at 9:59 am

    i am just glad we dont all have outside chores like when i was young. i feel for the folks who have to work outside.

  • Reply
    Mary Lou McKillip
    January 7, 2014 at 9:58 am

    Tipper, I had never heard about the old woman and her features, learn something every day . We have five inches snow here in Mo. it’s five below zero. This old Carolina hick is cold.Be safe and enjoy entertaining folks. Mary Truman

  • Reply
    Debbie Nobles
    January 7, 2014 at 9:27 am

    Woke up to 17 degrees here in NW Fla.Don’t know if I lost my 2 lemon and 2 orange trees or not they are too big to cover.The fireplace felt good last night . Just wish we had a little snow.

  • Reply
    Mrs. K
    January 7, 2014 at 9:23 am

    Regarding the old woman loosing her feathers – I wonder if this may originally come from myths and stories about the Germanic goddess, Holle. Max Dashu, of the Suppressed History Archives writes this: Holda appears chiefly in the winter, around Yuletime (winter solstice). In Germany and Holland it was and still is a common saying that if the snow falls, Frau Holle (Vrouw Holle) shakes her feather bed (or feather pillows).

  • Reply
    William Dotson
    January 7, 2014 at 9:20 am

    Well it was -6 degrees here in Aberdeen Ohio this morning about the same as our high for yesterday but will be glad for a warm up, they are predicting this weekend in the 40’s & 50’s. Have a great day everyone.

  • Reply
    Janet Smart
    January 7, 2014 at 9:18 am

    Same type of weather here, Tipper. It was -5 this morning when my son went to work – and that’s not taking into account the chill factor. I checked our flag this morning, it was blowing in the wind. We keep our house warm in the winter, but it even feels a little nippy in the house. I told Charley, if he wanted to eat breakfast in the warmest part of the house, we needed to eat in the laundry room. It’s toasty there. We have a small propane stove on the wall and he has an electric heater turned on out there – he’s a little paranoid about the water lines freezing. Stay warm.

  • Reply
    Garland Davis
    January 7, 2014 at 9:06 am

    Tipper, many people do not know this: Howard William Cosell ; born Howard William Cohen was born in Winston-Salem, North Carolina to accountant Isidore Cohen and his wife Nellie Cohen.
    Hawaii still has the best weather on the planet!

  • Reply
    Richard Beauchamp
    January 7, 2014 at 8:36 am

    It was -3 here in Kentucky this morning.

  • Reply
    Eva Nell Mull, PhD
    January 7, 2014 at 8:08 am

    Well Tipper, our temperature – on the back porch – is just about at 12 F and the ground is white with snow – but now very deep. It is probably below 10 degrees out in the open air. I do believe this will be another day spent around the fireplace – like yesterday. Maybe the SUN WILL COME OUT TOMORROW!
    Eva Nell
    Eva Nell

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    January 7, 2014 at 7:57 am

    Here in Black Mountain we had some snow flakes blowing around but none that stayed. It was however very cold and windy, very windy. During the night I thought we might blow away.
    This morning our temperature is a negative number. Not a big negative number, but very cold nun the less.
    I also woke to a frozen pipe somewhere. I have water in the bathroom and hot water at the kitchen sink but no cold water there. I currently have a little heater blowing under the kitchen sink. That will probably fix the problem. If not I’ll think of something else.
    It was every bit a three cat night!

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    January 7, 2014 at 7:22 am

    It’s a balmy 5 here this morning. I have yet to see a flake of snow this year. We are on southeastern slope of the Appalachians and most of our weather thus far has come from the northwest. The mountains has blocked a lot of the worst weather XX(crossed fingers?)It is supposed to be sunny and 27 today. That’s not too bad if the wind don’t blow too much.

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