Appalachia Profiles of Mountain People

Winter in the Mountains


“Well, I was down at the store one time and Mr. Stoner asked me, he says, “What does Bob do in the wintertime when it’s cold?” I said, “Well, one thing he does is he reads his Bible”; and as for me, “I piece quilts.” And that’s what the old people used to do. The women would card the wool and spin the thread and weave their clothing. Set the weave and keep the cradle in there. We’ve got the one that Bob slept in when he was a tiny baby. So in the wintertime that’s what we did, made quilts and molasses candy and had candy pullings and bean shellings; gather up the beans. We’d have bean shelling sand pea shellings mostly in the fall. But in the wintertime about all you would do was to keep warm. (Myrtle Merrell)”

Mountain Voices – Daily Life by Warren Moore


When I think of winter activities I think of reading by the woodstove, planning the summer garden, and cooking up yummy food for us to eat. The Deer Hunter uses winter to sharpen his knives, make new knives, read, and work on his guns.

The other day Granny told me she’s crocheted in her chair so much this winter she’s not sure she’ll be able to get out and about once Spring of the year arrives.

What activities do you do in the wintertime?


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  • Reply
    Leon Estes
    February 4, 2018 at 3:08 am

    I enjoyed the reply from “Pinnacle Creek”.
    It doesn’t stay cold long where I live. Some winters it snow 5 times, this year just flurries so far. It is still about 45 days till Spring, so we still have time to get a measurable snow. So, I am able to get out and about most every day. I am re-starting my little garden spot, digging out the Bermuda grass. One spade-ful at a time! I enjoy this part of it too. (we live on a city lot) This place is big enough for me at the moment. There’s a little town about 23 miles away I would not mind moving to – – if it weren’t for the packing and moving!

    By the way, what are sand peas?

  • Reply
    Diane Conti
    February 1, 2018 at 4:39 pm

    Here in southeastern Turkey, men would go up the mountain to cut big slabs of fresh clean snow, slip them into cloth sacks and take them back to town. They’d shave the ice and put it in metal dishes, drizzling homemade grape or mulberry molasses on top, mix it up and serve it up as a special winter treat.

  • Reply
    February 1, 2018 at 2:10 am

    Do you have the recipe for molasses candy? I remember when grandma use to make it for us on a cold winter weekend. It would be a trip through memory lane if you could share it with us.

    • Reply
      March 11, 2018 at 7:34 pm

      Jumpoffa-no I don’t have one but maybe someone else does and they’ll chime in with it 🙂

  • Reply
    January 31, 2018 at 9:52 pm

    Oh my, just now reading The Blind Pig. What a day! It has been a long day of traveling, and my luck seems to get worse and worse when I am on the road. Just had my brakes, tires, and battery checked at a fancy dealership that supplied coffee and a television. They advised everything was okay with plenty of brake pad left. On my trip today I started hearing a terrible scraping sound when I braked. I was too far to turn back, and it was probably too far to continue on. Being the determined person I was, I continued anyway with that terrible scraping sound when I had to apply brakes. I just said a prayer, and asked that he handle it. I drove really slow to prevent as much braking. I finally made it to destination, and asked around about good mechanics for brakes. I only had to drive about a mile to the recommended station that appeared to only work on cars with very little attention to a comfortable lounge area. In no time at all those friendly folks diagnosed my problem, and said something about a caliber sticking and the reason not caught is pads looked good…needed a closer inspection apparently that first time. I sat in a grungy little area…nothing fancy with just a soda machine. A few hours later ready to go after replacing rotors and pads with a very competent mechanic. Think I will stay away from fancy places, and try to seek out local mechanics from now on. (After recommendations)

    Now back to your question about what do we do in winter. It is truly become one of my favorite times. I do all my deep cleaning between January and March. Any painting or repairs is done then. It is wonderful to read those books I hadn’t had time to read. There is sewing and planning genealogy books and gifts for family reunion, oil the furnace, visiting family. Best of all it is a time I can loaf if I wish. Sometimes just bundle up and cook soup from all the canned vegetables. Summer gets so busy it just drags me along faster than I want to go.

  • Reply
    January 31, 2018 at 8:41 pm

    Wintertime is my fav… I do all my indoor chores that I deferred from the Spring, Summer & Fall… What few outdoor chores I do have are pretty limited such as feeding the birds, and my stray cat, and trimming tree branches before the sap starts flowing in Spring. I do watch too much TV but also am pretty consistent on getting in at least an hour or so of my daily prayers and reading my “Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth” (e.g. BIBLE). My indoor cat loves her You-Tube time watching Cat-videos…she’s a real mess…and between the real birds outside…I do believe that she’s addicted to the internet…!

  • Reply
    Bobby Title
    January 31, 2018 at 6:35 pm

    I had to live in Istanbul before I knew what winter was like in someplace other than southern California. I loved it. I saw snow for the first time. Heard it crunch under our feet when we walked. The sky was full of brownish soot because the Turks have their coal bussed down from Russia; it’s dropped off in the cellar of the apartment, and then shovelled into the boiler from there. I learned what it was like to put on a blouse, a sweater, a jacket and then a coat just to be able to walk a half-block in the cold to buy some eggs or milk –and then take it all off again inside the apartment. At night, everything glistens. The roads can get ever-so-sloshy – and one carries “mud shoes” with them when they go visiting in the daytime. I lived through 4 seasons a year, which Southern California does not have. We have one. But I’ll tell you, no matter where you are at, in the winter or in the summer or in between, the ants will always try to find a dry, warm place to squat!

  • Reply
    Vann Helms
    January 31, 2018 at 6:16 pm

    I bundle up and walk about a mile every morning at sunrise, no matter the weather. I have a canine companion who walks with me, and loves it. I make photographs of the frozen pond, or the ice ribbons growing up from the frozen earth. When I get home, I write newsletters for two branches of my family, and post on my blog if I have something new to share. I listen to classical music, and take a short nap mid-afternoon. I head for the gym in Marion to stay in skiing and walking shape, just in case. I head for Florida a couple of times for a weather break, but I hate to be away if snow is coming. I love the snow. I watch football and basketball when something good is on T.V.. and in February I’ll be glued to The Winter Olympics from South Korea. I’ve attended three in person, and there’s nothing to compare.

    • Reply
      Sheila Weaver
      February 2, 2018 at 10:44 am

      In Reply to Vann Helms post, does he live in Marion VA. by chance. My son is the manager, and trainer at the wellness center there, it is a lovely town. In reply to many of the other posts, seems that we are still very productive even in the cold of winter, but many relaxing and satisfying chores. I love the winter especially the snow.

  • Reply
    Paul Certo
    January 31, 2018 at 2:36 pm

    I play music, read, watch a little TV. Right now I am doing an important daily chore. I am acting as a pillow for my cat!

  • Reply
    January 31, 2018 at 12:42 pm

    Me and Whisky get into the recliner and watch TV. Sometimes he likes to be covered up, after a small kiss on the nose, and rolling those big, brown eyes at me, I cover him up. If he hears me rattling a bag of tater chips, out from under there he comes so I don’t get too many.

    I enjoyed Miss Cindy’s comment. Matter of fact I enjoy all the commenters, telling their stories of how they endure the long Winter’s nights. …Ken

  • Reply
    January 31, 2018 at 11:49 am

    Weekends Usually one of us stays home and takes care of our daughter and the other goes to town and gets groceries. I was always an outdoorsman all that has changed and boy it effects you both mental and physically

  • Reply
    January 31, 2018 at 10:35 am

    Is hibernation an activity?

  • Reply
    Mike McLain
    January 31, 2018 at 10:34 am

    I do woodturning and work on my computer and practice music. I also shovel snow when it is there. It is a good time to get caught up, but I watch too much TV during the cold weather. Getting ready to go to grocery store to get stocked up for more expected winter weather!

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    January 31, 2018 at 10:22 am

    This post is off the subject but I think maybe important. I just noticed yesterday that your new WordPress program includes a “reply” feature for each comment. I tried it to make a reply to Pinnacle Creek and saw a “comment awaiting approval” or something similar. Perhaps you might want to head us off from using that feature ? I could see it getting way out of hand if you have to review and approve them on screen one by one. Or is that automated so it doesn’t impact you in that way?

    • Reply
      January 31, 2018 at 3:06 pm

      Ron-it’s really easy for me to approve the replies so reply all you want to : )

  • Reply
    harry adams
    January 31, 2018 at 9:44 am

    I like to work in my wood shops better in the winter than summer. I just dress for the weather since I have no heat. In the summer time I can’t stand the heat and humidity. When my feet get cold I go in (usually 2 pair of socks on).
    I like Gayle’s doctor’s advice to keep from getting the flu. Also what’s with everyone wanting to shake hands when you do go out. This custom needs to end.

  • Reply
    January 31, 2018 at 9:06 am

    I sew, read, and clean out closets, drawers, and files. I also work the crossword puzzle in the newspaper.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    January 31, 2018 at 9:04 am

    Tip, I remember winter at my Granny’s house. My Grandpa had his chair with a lamp beside it and my Granny had her chair, also with a lamp beside it. I don’t remember that my Grandpa did much with his light but my Granny sure did use hers. She had a bible in hand’s reach and it was well used. She embroidered quilt squares with all kinds of colorful designs. Actually I still have a couple of her quilt tops that have never been made into a blanket. She also did mending, and making aprons and bonnets. My Granny was never idle, always doing something. They had to have lamps beside their chairs to do anything because it was the only sufficient light to work by. Their overhead light only had one small bulb in it.
    My grandparents work ethic was that if it was light you worked, and that’s what you did, and when it was dark you slept.
    In the winter they tended the animals, did sewing, mending and such. There was also drying and packaging seeds for the next summer. My Grandpa cracked nuts in the cellar for cooking.
    When I was little I loved visiting them…except at bed time. I was not used to going to bed when It got dark so I couldn’t go to sleep that early. I wanted to play or look at a book after we went to bed. That never worked out because my Granny always made me turn out the light. I was wide awake listening to their clock tick. It was a big old alarm clock beside their bed and even though I was in another bedroom it ticked so loudly that I could hear it!
    My Granny was dominant in that house, what she said was what you did, even my Grandpa!
    They were never idle! That was the law.

  • Reply
    January 31, 2018 at 9:03 am

    Most of my evenings and Saturdays are consumed by attending ballgames. I alternate between reading and quilting if there is any time left after I haul wood for the stove, clean out the ashes and take care of three demanding dogs. Winter is nearly as busy as summer around here.

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    January 31, 2018 at 8:47 am

    We keep up with our favorite basketball teams…men and women. I read late at night. Paint and draw every day…I haven’t done much crocheting this year. We catch up on movies we’ve been meaning to see but are now on TV…I have been staying home to try and avoid crowds and the flu…Next month will be a marathon of TV Winter Olympics, we love to watch. The birds get a lot of our attention as well, making suet and feeding everyday…By the way, we heard chorus frogs near our pond during the warm up a few days ago and a couple of early birds singing a territorial call…
    Looks like we might get another skiff or maybe of snow soon….
    Thanks Tipper,

    • Reply
      January 31, 2018 at 6:39 pm

      I had a redheaded woodpecker in a big old pine across the yard the other day. I watched him for about 30 minutes before he flew on to better pecking. That’s the first one I seen in the 25 years I’ve been here. I have seen a gamut of of ornithological specimens here from hummingbirds to eagles to cranes and Canada geese but that was my first redheaded woodpecker. I don’t do anything to attract birds here but they seem to be content. Maybe is is because I am like minded, i.e. birdbrained.

  • Reply
    January 31, 2018 at 8:42 am

    The best gift you could give Granny now is to make sure someone is doing exercises with her each day or at least encouraging her to do exercises twice or more a day. 5 min every hour or so would be just as good as 2 20 minute sessions. I’ve had too many family members and friends who’ve done themselves in by not keeping moving – very intentionally getting their heart rate going a little, their muscles flexible, and their blood flowing. My grandmother became extremely humpbacked after two years of doggedly working on afghans for each of her children, grandchildren, and greatgrandchildren – she also wound up with blood clots and leg sores from poor circulation. This isn’t meant to be a downer but it is meant to be a stern reminder of how important keeping moving is as we get older I even have a rocking footstool I keep in motion whenever I work at the computer! Am I a svelt and sculpted fitness freak? Funny – I’m so “cuddly” I put the Pillsbury Doughboy to shame! 😉

  • Reply
    Shirley J. Dixon
    January 31, 2018 at 8:19 am

    Reading is my best pastime. I keep a pile of books beside my chair always. I also do a lot of word search.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    January 31, 2018 at 7:51 am

    Wintertime is when I do the most of my genealogy research. I read all the time but also the most in winter. When there is snow or ice I get out and take pictures. Sometime along about late winter I start getting the garden ready to plant when the ground gets warm enough.

  • Reply
    Gayle Larson
    January 31, 2018 at 7:45 am

    Usually winter never slowed me down I did all my normal activities. This year was really different.
    After having my surgeries my doctor told me to stay away from people because of the Flu epidemic.
    I cannot believe how good I have been. I must have read at least two books a week. Granny had it right when she said it is going to be difficult getting out of the chair come spring.
    How did everyone like the Blue Moon last night?? Beautiful!!!

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