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Sunday, October 24, 2010

When the Frost...

Sorry to have left you with barking sea lions in my previous post, but I've been otherwise occupied and didn't have a chance to shut them up until now ;)

First of all, Happy Birthday to Flighty ~ although it is still his birthday here, it is tomorrow where he lives! So this post is especially for Flighty, and includes a reference to his encounter with frost and his love of poetry.

Fun first ~


OK, party time is over ;)

Last week I visited a farm that was celebrating the Pumpkin harvest - before the frost.


The combination of seeing harvested pumpkins and Flighty's mention of frost descending on his allotment sent me to become reacquainted with the poem 'When the Frost is on the Punkin' by the American poet, James Whitcomb Riley (1849-1916). This poem was written in the Hoosier dialect of Indiana. I wondered about the origin of such a dialect, and found out about the connection to a Cumberland (Cumbria) dialect from those who arrived in Southern Indiana! I was especially intrigued because I emigrated from Cumberland, but not to Indiana. I love finding connections like that!

Quite a fascinating write up of the life and work of James Whitcomb Riley here.  

When the Frost is on the Punkin
is a wonderful read for me, and I hope you enjoy it as well.

When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock,
And you hear the kyouck and gobble of the struttin' turkey-cock,
And the clackin' of the guineys, and the cluckin' of the hens,
And the rooster's hallylooyer as he tiptoes on the fence;
O, it's then's the times a feller is a-feelin' at his best,
With the risin' sun to greet him from a night of peaceful rest
As he leaves the house, bareheaded, and goes out to feed the stock,
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock.

They's something kindo' harty-like about the atmusfere
When the heat of summer's over and the coolin' fall is here --
Of course we miss the flowers, and the blossums on the trees,
And the mumble of the hummin'-birds and buzzin' of the bees;
But the air's so appetizin'; and the landscape through the haze
Of a crisp and sunny morning of the airly autumn days
Is a pictur' that no painter has the colorin' to mock --
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock.

The husky, rusty russel of the tossels of the corn,
And the raspin' of the tangled leaves, as golden as the morn;
The stubble in the furries -- kindo' lonesome-like, but still
A-preachin' sermuns to us of the barns they growed to fill;
The strawstack in the medder, and the reaper in the shed;
The hosses in theyr stalls below -- the clover over-head! --
O, it sets my hart a-clickin' like the tickin' of a clock,
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock!

Then your apples all is gethered, and the ones a feller keep
Is poured around the celler-floor in red and yeller heaps;
And your cider-makin' 's over, and your wimmern-folks is through
With their mince and apple-butter, and theyr souse and saussage, too! ...
I don't know how to tell it -- but ef sich a thing could be
As the Angels wantin' boardin', and they'd call around on me --
I'd want to 'commodate 'em -- all the whole-indurin' flock --
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock!

A view taken of the fields from my visit to the Pumpkin harvest farm:



  1. Thank you for the fun image!
    As it's bright, but chilly, here I'm just off plotting so I'll have a proper read of the poem later on over a cup of tea and a couple of biscuits. xx

  2. Great poem. Nice when they are in dialect but still easily readable. James was a busy poet. Gosh. Near a thousand poems!

  3. Hello again! I'm sat here with tea and biscuits enjoying reading that wonderfully vivid poem. I like the word 'hallylooyer'!
    That's one heck of a Wikipedia entry on Mr Riley isn't it.
    Thanks again for the fun bit! Flighty xx

  4. Hurrah for Flighty's b-day! The poem captures the dialect well, and so full of vivid sounds and sights of fall.

  5. You're welcome, Flighty ~ I'm pleased you enjoyed the fun ~ and good to here it was bright enough to go to your allotment.

    Hi John, I was thinking the same about being able to read the poem and understand it despite the dialect. Yes, I was amazed at the number of poems he had written, and also quite fascinated by his life story.

    Hi again Flighty ~ I'm happy you enjoyed reading he poem ~ yes, Hallylooyer jumped out at me too ~ different way of spelling it all right, and I now I'll think of that whenever I hear a rooster crowing! (which isn't often, btw ;)) Quite the write up indeed ~ his life was a bit of a crazy ride! Glad you enjoyed the birthday fun.

    Hi Nikki ~ It's amazing how Flighty's birthday comes around again each year at the same time, and how fast that time goes ;)
    Yes, the poem does evoke many fall images and I liked the verbiage in dialect form too.

  6. loving the dialect, as comfy as an old pair of slippers

  7. Mince and apple-butter sounds interesting. It's a great poem. I have saved the link to James Whitcomb Riley in my favourites. Lucky you to have made it to a pumpkin harvest. You may not make a big thing of it, but Happy Halloween anyway! x

  8. Hi UHDD ~ so pleased you enjoyed the poem ~ comfy is good!

    Hi Louise ~ That combination does sound good, doesn't it ~ I found the whole poem had that kind of charm too. Yes, the pumpkin festival was great and fun to see some of the children sitting on the huge ones!