Appalachia Overheard



“I thought Spring was here but it’s so cold this morning.” “No Spring ain’t here yet. We still have Blackberry squall and Dogwood squall to go.”


I heard the conversation above a few weeks ago. This week the dogwoods are blooming and we’re having a spell of cold weather-just like we always do when they bloom.

I’ve heard Blackberry winter and Dogwood winter my whole life-but I’ve never heard of Blackberry squall or Dogwood squall. Have you?


Overheard: snippets of conversation I overhear in Southern Appalachia


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  • Reply
    Dennis Langston Sr.
    May 12, 2019 at 11:26 am

    Always amusing to see people justify their ignorance of a subject by belittling those with knowledge. Here in the Ozarks, you can expect a cold front ( often rainy) lasting from a few days to a couple weeks , right around the time blackberries bloom. As it comes on fast and leaves just as fast , it is called a squall. The timing makes it quite naturally the blackberry squall. When it is over, spring has officially arrived.

    • Reply
      May 13, 2019 at 7:41 am

      Dennis-thanks for the comment and for sharing your knowledge of the word squall in relation to a cold spell that happens when the blackberries bloom. I think you misunderstood the comments and certainly my post. No one was belittling anyone, we were just commenting that we had never heard it, although it was common knowledge to one other commenter as it is to you. If you’d care to visit the Blind Pig & The Acorn often you’ll see language is one of our very favorite things to talk about, especially the differences that occur in a very short distance. I’ll often use a word or phrase I’ve heard all my life only to have my husband tell me he never heard it and he grew up only a couple counties away. And the same thing happens with my commenters from other areas of Appalachia. But we all embrace and love the uniqueness of language. Enjoy your day!

  • Reply
    April 23, 2015 at 8:33 am

    Yes heard of it all my life. Easter Squall and Blackberry Squall. Blackberry Squall usually is a little cold spell when the blackberry bushes are in bloom here.

  • Reply
    Melissa P. (Misplaced Southerner)
    April 17, 2014 at 11:53 am

    Only squalls I ever heard of were storms that blew up in Florida. I’m with you, Tipper. I alerts heard them called “winters.” Add for winter, he’s holding on strong here in Michigan! Had 4 inches of snow I Tuesday. Way below freezing both yesterday and this morning. My blackberries and dogwoods (yes, they’re a little coherent from the varieties at home) haven’t even put out shoots yet.

  • Reply
    kenneth o. hoffman
    April 17, 2014 at 9:45 am

    Tipper; Ive heard of many squall’s being here on the west coast. also an old navy man. but down in old arizony the winter,there was none of that. in the 70s every day almost.and sunshine every morn for my old dog chacha and sorry about the weather youuns had this winter. but now im back in washington rain, rain, rain. so i guess nothing,is perfect. regards to all blind pig pals. k.o.h

  • Reply
    April 17, 2014 at 6:30 am

    I always think of “squalls” as quick little storms that blow up over open water…the ocean, or at least a large lake. Maybe the person you overheard was an old salt currently in dry dock?
    We’re also looking at snow again, after a short spell of warmer weather Up here a Spring snow like this is often called “Mother Nature’s fertilizer.” Have you heard that one?.

  • Reply
    April 17, 2014 at 2:59 am

    Never heard of either before, but they sure seem apropos because the dogwoods and blackberries ARE blooming, and it IS again colder than an old hound dog’s nose here.
    In fact, the last cold that went through killed four of the five dogwood trees that we planted last fall, all our hyacinth blossoms and all but two of our tulips blossoms, and the cold we’re getting tonight probably killed those two too. Darnitall!!! But, such is life.
    God bless.

  • Reply
    April 16, 2014 at 9:08 pm

    Both of those sayings are new for me. I hope we will think of these days when the sweltering summer gets us heated up. Gosh! I forgot to hang the hummingbird feeder out. That’s a to do for tomorrow. Thanks, Ruth!

  • Reply
    April 16, 2014 at 6:08 pm

    Nope never heard it called squall, we had sleet and snow flurries yesterday though, and a pretty good frost in spots this morning.. We still call it winter..

  • Reply
    Julie Hughes
    April 16, 2014 at 12:51 pm

    Me either. I have heard of Blackberry winter but not Dogwood winter and of course Indian summer.

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    April 16, 2014 at 12:40 pm

    Just 2 days ago it was 80 degrees. It
    was in the lower 20’s this morning. If
    this don’t get all the fruit trees,
    another one tonite will do the trick.
    I read on the internet that Dogwood
    and Blackberry Winter was the same,
    depending on what part of the South
    you were in. Anyway, I hope this is the
    last of the Cold Spells…Ken

  • Reply
    April 16, 2014 at 10:54 am

    I love Spring. Never heard the weather patterns in the mountains called squall. We had every season in last two days. Yesterday snow, rain, sunshine.
    All the weather oddity expressions have been around for a very long time, but I rarely hear them. That is why I love love love The Blind Pig. I try to keep them alive in my world.

  • Reply
    Garland Davis
    April 16, 2014 at 10:44 am

    From Wikipedia: A squall is a sudden, sharp increase in wind speed which is usually associated with active weather, such as rain showers, thunderstorms, or heavy snow. Squalls refer to an increase in the sustained winds over a short time interval, as there may be higher gusts during a squall event.
    I have seen many fast moving rain squalls at sea and experience them on a frequent basis as they move across the Hawaiian islands.

  • Reply
    Eva Nell Mull Wike
    April 16, 2014 at 10:23 am

    Tipper: We are waiting for SPRING to really arrive. Jim saw a humming bird a couple of days ago. So we must get our feeder out – but it would probably freeze! Crows and Mocking birds are having a very serious battle – but maybe one or the other will secede from our backyard. TOMORROW NIGHT I HOPE TO SEE YOU @ THE FOLK SCHOOL! We will have CDs of Uncle Johnny’s fiddle playing from the 1950’s!
    Eva Nell
    Eva Nell

  • Reply
    April 16, 2014 at 10:12 am

    Sailors talk about squalls – those sudden, fairly short-lived, but very blustery storms that happen on the water.
    Wonder if the person you overheard has some coastal heritage. Dogwood and Blackberries also grow near the coastline.
    Our dewberries (kin to your blackberries) are blooming better than I’ve seen in a long time – seem to be trying to compete with the bluebonnets for attention; but, even with their great presentation, the bluebonnets are dominating the show.

  • Reply
    C. Ron Perry, Sr.
    April 16, 2014 at 9:06 am

    Nope, new words to me also.

  • Reply
    Lisa Snuggs
    April 16, 2014 at 8:58 am

    Never heard of the squalls by name, but I like them. Weather oddities always make me feel closer to God, as if they are reminders we’re not in charge.

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    April 16, 2014 at 7:49 am

    Never heard them called a squall. Mt mother used to say that there is always a cold snap just before Easter.

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    April 16, 2014 at 7:45 am

    I have never heard of Dogwood squall or Blackberry squall! Just the winter! However, we certainly had a squall yesterday. Since the blackberries aren’t blooming til next month, this one is definitely Dogwood. We woke up to ice pellets hammering us as we ran to the car. After about 15 minutes on the road, large snowflakes flopped on the windshield. To tell you the truth, it wasn’t a pretty sight! Just didn’t seem right, looking thru the snow out to the roadside and mountains, all green leafed and white fluffy stuff falling all around. It lasted until about noon and the sun came out. Sure was damp chilly afternoon. It was 28 degrees when I logged on at 6 AM this morning. I dread looking out at the plants. We covered our Romaine lettuce and a few early (only 3 each of peppers and tomatoes)that we planted. You know how the urge hits, hoping against hope that this is the year of the non-treat of freeze early garden. Nope not again this year. I just hope the strawberries and fruit trees made it. If it was too cold without heatpots to ward off the freeze in the orchards, even with the fruit set, the little fruit will drop off…When I get brave enought I am going to peek outside.
    Thanks Tipper,
    PS…I hope the Mockingbirds shared the evergreen bushy Leland Cypress trees with the hummingbirds last night, for it was too cold for them too. They were feeding on the feeders I hung for them all day the day before. My azaleas are just starting to bloom, which is one of their favorites…

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    April 16, 2014 at 7:39 am

    Never heard of either, either. The only squalls I know of are from babies and the cat when grandma rocks it’s tail.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    April 16, 2014 at 7:21 am

    No, Tipper, I’ve never heard of blackberry squall or dogwood squall. I thought a squall involved water as in water, rain, wind, and possibly ocean.
    Whatever you want to call one of these cold snaps I believe we are having one this very day!

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