Appalachia Sayings from Appalachia

Appalachian Sayings – Close As Bark On A Tree – AND Another Giveaway!

Close as bark on a tree

“Those two are closer than bark on a tree.”

close as bark on a tree = very close

I’ve also heard this one: He’s as tight as the bark on a tree. Meaning he is very frugal.

granny's hat


Today’s Thankful November Giveaway is a hat and scarf set made by Granny. I’m hosting the giveaways as a way of saying THANK YOU to Blind Pig and The Acorn readers. Want a chance to win? All you have to do is leave a comment on this post. *Giveaway ends Monday November 16, 2015.



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  • Reply
    November 29, 2015 at 5:57 am

    Just found your blog tonight. Jim Casada and I must be from close together. I’ve heard all the same “tight as” that he listed, right down to “Dick’s hat band”. Wonder who Dick is? And in another comment earlier, one of his relatives said he was “able to sit up and take nourishment” and so did one of mine! He does mention “miser’s purse”, whereas we said “spinster’s purse”. And my grandfather, who was not too politic in what he said, would say someone was “tight as a spinster’s knees”.
    I’ve heard the “tight as bark on a tree” to mean an infatuated couple or a bunch of scoundrel kids that are always in trouble together (thick as thieves), as well as being a skinflint. Frugal people can also be “so tight he squeaks when he walks”, “so tight he can squeeze a nickel till the Indian rides the buffalo”, and “tighter than last fall’s underwear” (meaning the longjohns young people were often sown into all winter with an asefetida bag to keep them from “taking cold”–they would usually be way too small by spring, especially on adolescent boys).
    And while we’re on the subject of tightness, if someone is nervous or upset, he can be “wound tighter than an 8-day clock”.

  • Reply
    Brenda Schlosser
    November 15, 2015 at 3:28 am

    I haven’t heard the sayings, but m y Granny used to say someone was tight or a tightwad. I have a friend that has always said, Shit fire and save the matches. My Granny also always said, I’m as full as a tick. When she was very tired from working in the house or yard, she would say, I’m all tuckered out or all petered out.
    I would love to win this beautiful purple set. That is the most beautiful color of purple I have ever seen.

  • Reply
    Edwin Ammons
    November 15, 2015 at 12:41 am

    Those who chose to use the phrase “closer than bark on a tree” apparently didn’t know a lot about my Appalachian ancestors. They earned part of their living by taking bark off trees to sell to tanneries who used the acids in it to tan leather. In the spring of the year when the sap was rising, the bark became loose and was easy to remove from the tree. They knew when the time was right to lay the tree down and in no time could have it completely stripped.

  • Reply
    November 14, 2015 at 3:06 pm

    Have heard “they are as tight as bark on a tree” – which I thought meant that the pair being discussed had a close emotional connection. Funny how sayings can be turned this way and that – – just like folklore – you may know a similar tale without knowing the same tale.
    By the way – my oldest and his wife are both theater teachers; so, I often send your vocabulary studies and some of the other stories and phrasings to them for use is the writing and acting classes for dialect studies. Sometimes I think the theatrical world is the best hope of preserving ethnic and regional language and customs.

  • Reply
    Granny Sue
    November 14, 2015 at 12:52 pm

    Tighter than the bark on a hickory tree, that’s the one I hear around here, Tipper. I know there are others but my brain is foggy this morning. Love that hat and scarf–it would be like Granny’s warm hands wrapped around my head, keeping me warm 🙂

  • Reply
    Glynda Chambers
    November 14, 2015 at 11:48 am

    Have not heard that saying before but it’s interesting. Love reading your post every day. The crocheted hat and scarf are so pretty and this dark purple is a favorite color. I would love to win it.

  • Reply
    Sue Crane
    November 14, 2015 at 11:46 am

    New phrases. Gorgeous color for hat & scarf. Purple is a favorite among my great grands. Just wondering – is Granny always busy? 🙂

  • Reply
    Edwin Ammons
    November 14, 2015 at 11:30 am

    “Like a mule eating sawbriars” refers to the fact that when they eat something prickly, they pull back their lips so as not to get stuck. They end up with a big toothy grin. Their parents, horses and donkeys, do it too but I guess it looks stupider on a mule. I have seen dogs do the same thing while trying to kill a bumblebee.
    I have never heard “closer than bark in a tree” but I won’t be able to say that tomorrow.
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    Today’s post rating by (me)

  • Reply
    November 14, 2015 at 10:56 am

    My Meemaw used to say, “He’s as tight as Dick’s hatband.” It gave me a headache to think of it! I’ll bet Granny’s lovely hat and scarf wouldn’t do that.

  • Reply
    C. Ron Perry, Sr.
    November 14, 2015 at 10:43 am

    Granny has a lot of talent. My mom did that type of thing before she died.

  • Reply
    Margaret Johnson
    November 14, 2015 at 10:40 am

    I’ve heard a lot of expressions referring to being close and frugal, but none related to bark on a tree. So, I learned something new today, Tipper, thank you! Granny is a very clever and talented, and has a keen eye for color.

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    November 14, 2015 at 10:38 am

    I’ve heard the sayings also…However, I’ll just betcha that if you ask “Deer hunter” or “Pap” they will tell you that some trees have bark a lot tighter than others…Some you can just knock loose with a good whack of a “go-devil” others you couldn’t get a razor blade between the bark and trunk…
    I remember my Dad picking out a little piece of 1/2 inch or so diameter twig, cutting around each end, shortening it too somewhat, and taking his hands and twisting it until it loosed around itself…He cut a notch on one end, and a notch in the loose bark piece. We watched as we wondered what he was doing with that pocket knife he carried faithfully…All of a sudden he put it to his mouth and blew and slid the bark on the little branch back and forth…he made us all a whistle that day…I tried to make one for my boys when they were little, when we took one of our walks in the woods. I told them they would just have to get their Granddaddy to make it…I just couldn’t get the bark twisted off that little branch…It probably was birch…not sure!
    Love the hat…Great Job Granny!
    Thanks Tipper,
    PS….Jim beat me to the one about “tighter than a tick on a mongrel dog”….ha

  • Reply
    Ron Banks
    November 14, 2015 at 9:43 am

    I have heard the saying but not often. I like to use one my dad used when referring to a miserly person. ” He’s as tight as a fifth string on a banjo.”
    A few more I know are, tight as Dick’s hatband, so tight he squeaks when he walks and so tight he can squeeze a nickel til the buffalo hollers.
    I hear and use tight in regard to being close to someone too. And I have heard and use thick in the same context. ” Now those two are thick because you never see one without the other.”
    The scarf and hat sure would look pretty on my wife.

  • Reply
    Pamela Danner
    November 14, 2015 at 9:26 am

    I’m not sure if I have heard that one. I like it though. What a lovely hat and scarf set Granny made, and the color is beautiful! Thanks for the chance to win!

  • Reply
    John Faircloth
    November 14, 2015 at 8:53 am

    Some of my favorites:
    “Well ain’t that a sight in this world!” …self explanatory.
    As Moma is leaving the house, she tells the kids, “Y’all be smart now.” …Be on your best
    As the old boys are sittin’ around the stove at Glady’s store, you’ll often hear “Well shit fire!” …a
    statement of incredulity.
    And, “Why hit don’t make me no nevermind.” …”I don’t care”

  • Reply
    November 14, 2015 at 8:33 am

    Never heard this saying…thanks for sharing! I love the hat and scarf; your Granny does beautiful work and generous with her time and talent.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    November 14, 2015 at 8:33 am

    Had not thought of “tight as Dick’s hatband” (per Jim) in years but heard it often growing up. As Jim says, there must be a story there somewhere.
    Another I heard was saying that someone looked “like a mule eatin’ saw briers” which mule I have never seen myself so I am not sure what the corresponding human look is or just what emotional state it represents.
    I remember hearing that someone looked “like a suck-egg dog” that is sheepish and guilty. Then there was “feeling like something the dogs drug in and the cats wouldn’t have” or like someone who was “sent for and couldn’t come then got there and wuzn’t needed”.
    Thanks for the reminders.

  • Reply
    barbara Gantt
    November 14, 2015 at 8:19 am

    I havent heard either of those sayings but like both. Granny does beautiful work. Barbara

  • Reply
    November 14, 2015 at 8:01 am

    I have never heard either of the sayings. That’s a beautiful color of yarn Granny used to make the hat and scarf.

  • Reply
    November 14, 2015 at 7:53 am

    Granny must have the busiest crochet hook and fingers around. Her work is so pretty and it looks like the yarn used above has a bit of a sheen to it. Very pretty! I also liked the saying today. Although I wasn’t familiar with it, I could see the meaning after you used it in a situation. I must remember it. Happy Day to All!

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    November 14, 2015 at 7:37 am

    I’ve heard both of those sayings. Both are very expressive.
    I am also familiar with the hats and scarves that Granny makes. I have be the lucky recipient of several of them. They are cozy warm and I get lots of comments when I wear them.

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    November 14, 2015 at 7:36 am

    Tipper–Other analogies of this genre:
    Tight as a tick
    Tight as a miser’s purse
    Tight as Dick’s hat band (there has to be a story behind this one)
    Tight as a banker’s fist
    Close as kissing cousins
    Close as lifelong friends
    Close as twins (this one has real applicability here)
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    Barb Wright
    November 14, 2015 at 7:30 am

    I have heard (and used) both of these for all of my life. Especially “tighter than the bark on a tree”’s very common up here. I love this giveaway! By the way,it’s spitting snow this morning..whoopie!!

  • Reply
    November 14, 2015 at 5:39 am

    I knew a lady who always said “slick as the bark on a log.” Had heard none of the others. Granny certainly can pick some pretty colors…love the scarf and hat.

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