April showers bring May flowers, but what does April snow bring? According to my late mother, who was a fount of wisdom, April snow brings babies. Also, April snow water was a good remedy for burns. As for the babies. I wonder now if you rubbed April snow on your skin, ate it or wallered in it. At my age, I don’t think I have too much to worry about, as I have already done my duty and left plenty of descendants. Someone else can carry on!
Our mountain folk have plenty of superstitions, besides April snow, with Friday the 13th being one of them. Friday has been considered unlucky since medieval times. In Britain, Friday was the conventional time for public hangings, which certainly was unlucky for the victim. There were supposedly 13 steps leading to the noose. It is generally considered bad luck to start anything on a Friday—new journey, job, marry, business projects, giving birth, among many other things.
In many tall buildings, the number 13 is omitted when numbering the floors. In a lighter vein, it is considered by many folks to be unlucky to cut your fingernails or hair on a Friday. In the Christian faith, the number of guests at the Last Supper was 13, with Judas Iscariot being the unlucky number.
Mom would vow that she wasn’t superstitious, but there were certain things she was sort of leery about. One was bringing a garden hoe in the house, and another was opening an umbrella in the house. She would say half jokingly, “That’s bad luck!” She really did believe in tokens, or omens of death, because she had experienced quite a few. She was the seventh daughter.
Seven has always been a mystic number, and the seventh daughter means “Supreme and Blessed.” The seventh daughter of the seventh daughter was purported to have second sight, and my mother really did possess a sense of clairvoyance that was beyond explanation. Even when she was small, she saw a token (a beam of light shining on her bedroom wall) and told her parents that a neighbor was dead. Sure enough, word came that morning that he had died.
When she would recall these incidents that had happened to her, I was so frightened of seeing a token that I was afraid to go by myself to the barn to get the dry onions stored there. She did explain to me that I would never see a token, since I was afraid of it. One night she and I were outside after dark, and the moon had strange, misty shadows on it. “There’s blood on the moon tonight,” she remarked. I quoted a blurb that I had read advertising a movie, “When there’s blood on the moon, death lurks in the shadows.” I said, “I bet that is a good movie.” She replied, “I didn’t know that was a movie.”
The next day we received word that a neighbor nicknamed “Moon” had fallen out of the back of a truck and was killed. For awhile, I was afraid of my own mother.
Winter seems to be giving up its relentless grip on our hills, as warmer sunshine is coaxing out the early spring flowers to bloom. I can imagine these tiny anemones and bloodroot flowers waking up from their long winter’s nap, and stretching their little rootlets through the warming soil. The power of the warm sun propels them to poke their tiny heads up through the rich earth and spread their petals in the air. What hope we feel when we spy a green-striped Jack-in-the-Pulpit preaching to a congregation of dogtooth violets (spotted trout lilies.) We can rest assured, that after a cold and wet beginning, that spring is really here.
Proverbs 27:25 reads, “The hay appeareth, and the tender grass sheweth itself, and the herbs of the mountains are gathered.” Daughter Patty and husband Bob have harvested some morel mushrooms already. They are always the first in the family to find these tasty little wild mushrooms, and I wonder sometimes if they don’t dig them out of the ground. A few days of warm sunshine should encourage a crop of them. Ramps are up and ready to dig. West Virginia woods are beginning to offer their wild foods to grateful foragers.
I found a poem written years ago by my youngest sister Susie. As we say farewell to winter weather, here are some memories we’d like to forget.
ARE WE EVER SATISFIED?
By Susie Loomis
All summer long,
while I slaved in the sun,
I longed for the winter,
and thought it would be fun
To sit by the fire,
with a book on my knees,
And not have to hoe gardens, mow yards or shell peas.
I seemed to forget the snow and the mud,
The eternal dishes;
the cooking and crud,
Wading the snow to feed the horse
To burn the trash,
no one wants to of course.
Getting up at night and feeding the fire,
Everyone is asleep
—I bet that they are!
How did I know Noel would be kicked out of school
For thirteen days for breaking the rule.
Why would I think that I would have to
Clean snow off the porches
And the crummy car too.
And why in the winter does a hubby grouch
And spill popcorn and tea,
As he lays on the couch?
And who gets to dump the ashes—you guessed,
Feed the dogs, pups and cats, and do all the rest.
Who has the honor of cleaning the tub
Of scrubbing the sink,
and fixing the grub?
Who picks up the clothes strung all over the floor,
And brings in the firewood? Shall I tell you more?
Where is the leisure I thought would be sweet
When the dishes are done; they holler, “Let’s eat!”
No, I’m not crying,
I just have a cold
I’m too big to cry,
I’ve often been told.
I just wonder how long it will be until summer,
I hope it is soon, winter sure is a bummer!
Happy springtime to Susie, and all of us who have waited patiently (or impatiently, as the case may be.)
“It’s here—it’s here!” I heard the songbirds trill this morning. Enjoy it!
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