Appalachia Appalachia Through My Eyes

Appalachia Through My Eyes – The Sun Draws Water

My life in appalachia the sun draws water

Once a week I take Granny to get groceries. She hasn’t drove in years, but she instructs me on the finer points of driving almost weekly. Most of the time it’s just me and her other times the whole gang tags along for the trip.

Do you see the 2 shafts of sunshine coming through the clouds just to the left of the road? On our grocery trip this week, we were treated to a spectacular sky. The picture in no shape or form captures the beauty of the rays coming through the dark clouds. As we were driving along marveling over the scene Granny said “When the sun was shining through the clouds like that Momma always said the sun was drawing water.”

Sounds like an old Appalachian saying to me-have you ever heard it?


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


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  • Reply
    September 23, 2012 at 8:49 am

    i love reading your blogs and getting to know your family thru them (you have a lovely family). if you took that picture while driving no wonder Granny is instructing you on the finer points of driving lol.
    sandy xoxo

  • Reply
    nancy m.
    September 22, 2012 at 11:10 pm

    I’ve never heard that, but it is a gorgeous site! Love seeing His work like that!

  • Reply
    September 22, 2012 at 9:58 am

    Ed-sometimes : ) But not in a long time!
    Blind Pig The Acorn
    Celebrating and Preserving the
    Culture of Appalachia

  • Reply
    September 20, 2012 at 11:57 pm

    I have lived in Central Alabama nearly 70 years and have always heard that the sun was drawing water. It meant we should get a shower within four to five days. We mostly just see that in the hot summer months.

  • Reply
    September 20, 2012 at 11:35 pm

    Maybe the term is more Southern than just Appalachian. Over in Southern Mississippi, we heard that frequently when growing up, and 60+ years later, my hubby and I still think of that term when we are are blessed to see those translucent shafts of light parting the clouds.
    The curious things is that we most often see this beautiful sight when we are on the highway between LA and our hometown in MS.
    On one trip, when those ribbons of sun popped through what looked like storm clouds, we commented that the Lord was giving us a special sight to remember our trip home…to make us feel better about having to go back to LA one more time.
    We have seen those same ribbons on a trip around the mountains of Northwestern NC, too!!

  • Reply
    kenneth o. hoffman
    September 20, 2012 at 11:12 pm

    Tipper: up here in the pacific north west,we are called sun dodgers,because of all the rain. oops we haven’t had any for almost 2 months. maybe the sun drew it away? regards from Sedro Woolley .k.o.h

  • Reply
    Suzi Phillips
    September 20, 2012 at 10:35 pm

    Gorgeous picture! LOL! I just took my 85 year old mother on her first trip to West Virginia-all that drivin’ she did from the passenger seat wore us both slap out! PS- Please tell Jackie that a cucumber tree is a wild magnolia. There are three kinds-the other two are fraser & umbrella. I believe they are part of the poplar family(?).

  • Reply
    susie swanson
    September 20, 2012 at 8:28 pm

    Yes I’ve heard it my whole life..

  • Reply
    September 20, 2012 at 5:50 pm

    never heard that. we called suns like that “easter cards”!

  • Reply
    Mike McLain
    September 20, 2012 at 5:03 pm

    I never heard that one, but I can visualize a big glowing “straw” that is being used to suck the water up to the sun…

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    September 20, 2012 at 4:33 pm

    Has your day ever been dark and cloudy and suddenly the sun breaks through and everything looks bright and clean and clear. That is when “Gods finger” is directly on you!

  • Reply
    Lonnie Dockery
    September 20, 2012 at 4:23 pm

    That was the first thing I thought of when I saw the picture. Mother always told us the sun was drawing water. I told my daughter the same thing, but she’d already had a science class or two and didn’t believe me!

  • Reply
    dolores barton
    September 20, 2012 at 4:01 pm

    Love the photograph; a wonderful treat while off to do an errand. I think the Man upstairs was looking over you as you drove and wanted to let you know he was protecting you and ma. You might enjoy it being framed with the title – Heaven is thirsty. It is a new saying for me as I had never heard of drawing water that way.

  • Reply
    September 20, 2012 at 3:43 pm

    Hadn’t heard it called that before, but like it as others have.
    My brother used to call rays of the sun like those “Jesus rays.”

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    September 20, 2012 at 2:56 pm

    B.Ruth-Art is the heart, mind and soul of the artist. The viewer takes away from it what he will but can never away what the artist put in it.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    September 20, 2012 at 2:36 pm

    Jackie-I know the cucumber tree you are talking about. We had them in Swain County too. They have a big white bloom in the spring and then a fruit that looks like a wilted cucumber. I always thought they were some kind of deciduous magnolia (because of the bloom, I guess.) But I ain’t no horticulturalist. Or is it a botanist that I ain’t?

  • Reply
    September 20, 2012 at 2:30 pm

    wow tipper i am always amazed.. at the vivid thoughts and comments i see here.. the photo you shared is something that i always love to see.. but as one of your other readers had said… its rays from heaven shining through.. but i also love the straws comment… i will also see if i notice rain after seeing them in the sky next time.. thanks again for giving me something new that i have learned..
    hope granny had a wonderful day out , im sure she enjoys being with you and the girls.
    big ladybug hugs

  • Reply
    September 20, 2012 at 1:35 pm

    I’ve seen the Sun burning holes
    through the clouds and marveled
    at the Beauty, but I don’t recall
    ever hearing that Appalachian
    Folklore. Maybe I just wasn’t
    paying attention cause evaporation
    has to take place, or we’d never
    get the needed rain. It’s all in
    His Hands anyway…Ken

  • Reply
    Tim Hassell
    September 20, 2012 at 12:50 pm

    I’ve heard it and say it all the time. I agree with Barbara and Stephen about the rain/unstable weather, Dad always said that it was the sun drawing water that was stored in the clouds and when the clouds were full it would rain.

  • Reply
    September 20, 2012 at 12:17 pm

    and Ed…I have never seen the Sun Dogs play hockey…LOL
    Do you think the Sun Dogs are named (pair of reflections surrounding the sun) for the pair of Foo dogs sitting on the mantel. Holding the ball that represents the sun/moon as Yang?
    Just wondered, it is just a Ying and Yang thing…sorta like this and that, but it is neither here nor there…Love it..
    Thanks Tipper, Thanks Ed..hadn’t thought of Sun dogs in a “coons age”…

  • Reply
    September 20, 2012 at 11:24 am

    My parents and Grandparents said this. I thought it was just Sunlight through the holes in the clouds illuminating moisture in the air.
    I have’nt seen a response to my question yesterday about the cucumber tree. I don’t know the real name – all I ever heard it call was cucumber tree.

  • Reply
    Sam Ensley
    September 20, 2012 at 11:20 am

    My grandmother always used the term, “Drawing water.”
    Over here in Georgia, we pronounced the name, Edwards, with a “g” sound. I remember addressing valentines for my third-grade class and spelling the name as “Etterge” because that’s what it sounded like to me.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    September 20, 2012 at 10:20 am

    Jane-My Daddy used to talk about the “old El Ederds place.” It wasn’t until years later, after I starting researching my family tree, that I discovered that El Ederds was Ellen or Eleanor Edwards.
    Woodard is a common name in the area I am from, but no Wooderds I know of.

  • Reply
    September 20, 2012 at 10:17 am

    Not a familiar saying to me, but I like it. I will share it with my grand boys next time I see it. Their minds are like sponges drawing up little bits of info that I pass along. Keeps me on my toes as I like to kid but don’t want them to remember my joshing as fact.

  • Reply
    Karen Larsen
    September 20, 2012 at 10:01 am

    Never heard that saying. That is a beautiful sky, for sure!

  • Reply
    September 20, 2012 at 9:47 am

    Yes, I have heard that all my life…but that “God was drawing water!”
    One time I painted a lake scene with dark clouds…I showed it to my art teacher, he said “Did you purposefully draw the rays of the sun thru the clouds going down to the ground?”…”Course I did…they are drawing water!” He laughed and said, “I don’t know about that!” and a few other comments about my shafts of light..
    Kinda broke my heart, as I was sorta proud of the effort…
    You know what, just for spite, I didn’t change it and still have that painting today…”Please teachers, give students some kind of encouragement, even if you differ in their beliefs…After all, art is in the heart and mind of the artist as well as the viewer!!…
    Thanks Tipper, for the memory although you probably didn’t think it would conjure a spitefull response from me…

  • Reply
    Sallie aka granny Covolo
    September 20, 2012 at 9:37 am

    Tipper, I can’t recall having heard that but it surely was a wonderful looking sky.

  • Reply
    September 20, 2012 at 9:27 am

    I had never heard of the phrase before, but Sterling has. They are one of my favorite skies! I used to call them God’s fingers as a child. I have taken some pictures of them that I love, but it is difficult to capture them well with a digital camera. Nothing like a co-pilot to keep you focused on the road 😀

  • Reply
    Jane Bolden
    September 20, 2012 at 9:05 am

    I wish I had written down all my grandmother’s sayings. She would say that was an old “Ederds” saying . I believe this was old English for Edwards. There was an old mill near us called “Wooderd’s” Mill. It was near what is now Mall of Georgia. There are several things in the area named Woodwards now such as Woodwards Elementary. Has anyone heard of old Ederds sayings?

  • Reply
    September 20, 2012 at 9:00 am

    Interesting! I have never heard that the sun is drawing water when the rays look like that. The next time I see the beautiful sight, I will be paying close attention to the timing of the next rainfall.

  • Reply
    Ron Banks
    September 20, 2012 at 8:29 am

    I know I have heard the saying somewhere in the past but I can’t figure out where. It is not one that I use but I do like it. When I see the sun shining through the clouds like that I think that it must have looked that way when Christ ascended.
    Ed, I know what a sun dog is. I’m not sure what causes them but they are cool to look at.

  • Reply
    Jerry M.
    September 20, 2012 at 8:09 am

    I’ve heard that all my life here in Arkansas, so it’s not just an Appalachian thing.

  • Reply
    September 20, 2012 at 8:04 am

    Have always heard that’s what’s happening.

  • Reply
    Rufus Lee King
    September 20, 2012 at 7:59 am

    I agree with Stephen about the falling air and barometric pressure and stuff. I think we should call them “sun straws” because it looks like the sun is sucking up water getting ready to spew it all over everwhar. You know, like when you get milk up your nose!
    Do you suppose there is a way to check lake levels in the area of a storm to see if they coincide with the barometric pressure and see just how just much water the sun sucked up and therefore predict the amount of rainfall can be expected from a particular meteorological event.

  • Reply
    September 20, 2012 at 7:45 am

    LOL.. all this time I thought my Grandmother just made that up, I’ve passed it along to my sons also. Thank you, glad to know others have heard this also.

  • Reply
    Barbara Gantt
    September 20, 2012 at 7:33 am

    I still say that, Mama always said it meant that soon it would rain. Barbara Gantt

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    September 20, 2012 at 7:27 am

    I’ve never heard that, Tipper, but it certainly looks like what is happening.
    I’ll be interested in the comments the rest of the day to see if others know of it and to see if anyone knows if it is grounded in fact.

  • Reply
    Judy Mincey
    September 20, 2012 at 7:21 am

    Have heard it all my life. Great picture.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    September 20, 2012 at 7:18 am

    Of course I’ve heard it, but not in many years. Thanks again for the daily remedial Appalachian education.
    Do you ever see sun dogs?

  • Reply
    Kimberly Burnette
    September 20, 2012 at 7:07 am

    I do remember hearing this from my grandparents.

  • Reply
    September 20, 2012 at 6:40 am

    Yes Tipper i have heard that many times from my Dad.

  • Reply
    Pat in east TN
    September 20, 2012 at 6:33 am

    I’ve never heard that, but I like that.

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    September 20, 2012 at 6:16 am

    Never heard that, but I like the saying

  • Reply
    September 20, 2012 at 5:00 am

    “Crepuscular rays” is the correct term. Sailors called them “backstays of the sun” as they seem to converge like certain ropes on a sailing ship. But “sun drawing water” is a new one to me.

  • Reply
    Stephen Ammons
    September 20, 2012 at 4:34 am

    I have heard and used this saying many times. I could be wrong but am thinking that when the barometric pressure is falling the air will be lifted upward and can carry evaporation from lakes and so on. Most of the time when you see it twc will tell you conditions are becoming unstable and thus thunderstorms or worse follows. Wishing you a great day. 🙂

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