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First Day of Fall

When the Frost is on the Punkin

BY JAMES WHITCOMB RILEY

Frost is on the pumpkin | Pumpkin, Fall pumpkins, Fall harvest

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.

Wheatfield with Sheaves, 1888 by Vincent Van Gogh - Picture Frame Print on Canvas

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.

Fall Farm Scene Painting by Cathy Geiger

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!

Credit: Thinkstock

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!

Making Apple Cider - Real Food - MOTHER EARTH NEWS

Published in 1911, the poem is written in the speaker’s rural vernacular. As such, there are words and objects that may not be commonly known to those living any place other than the countryside in the late 19th century.

Though some may be confused, “punkin” is actually a pumpkin. To many who are unfamiliar with life on the countryside or have only experienced modern society, “fodder’s in the shock” can be quite confusing. Fodder is animal feed and shock, in this case, is a group of sheaves of grain. The group, made up of twelve sheaves of grain, are tied and stacked so that they support each other.

It’s harvest time, and the speaker obviously enjoys this time of year. This season is a restful one for him. There is beauty and contentment in taking time to stop and observe it. In the details of nature, there is much wonder, if we stop to look.

As another poet Robert Browning wrote, “God’s in His heaven; all’s right with this world.”

Today is the first day of fall, 2020. A breeze is ruffling the leaves, and the squirrels are throwing the pecans to the ground. As the sun rose this morning, I heard one of our barred owls hooting in its hunt for breakfast.

I believe it is time for a cup of apple cider, because….

Hot Apple Cider • A Sweet Pea Chef

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