Spring by Kathryn White

Monday, October 4, 2010

When the Frost is on the Punkin

We awoke to a crisp cool morning with evidence of our first morning frost. As I was walking with my colleague into the library for a meeting, I was reminded of the following poem that was a favourite of my children's when we were studying poetry. Enjoy!

James Whitcomb Riley, America's Children's Poet,
and the poet of the Hoosier people
wherever they may be around the world.
"Riley is, you see, the "Hoosier Poet."
'Hoosier' is not just a name for Indiana folk.
No, it is the name for people who are humble before God and hardworking despite suffering all that life throws at them. They are sympathetic with the plight of others and tolerant beyond measure of race, creed, gender, orientation or social status. Each Hoosier keeps an eye out for trouble but hopes and prays that none hits him or her. The themes of the poetry of the "Hoosier Poet" reflect this kenotic outlook."

by: James Whitcomb Riley (1849-1916)
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 keeps
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!

"When the Frost is on the Punkin"
is reprinted from Complete Works.
James Whitcomb Riley. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1916.

Winslow Homer (1836-1910)
The Pumpkin Patch
Watercolor on paper