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Naperville
Thursday, February 22, 2024

Frost on pumpkins signals time is near to fall back one hour

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Glowing in the early morning sunshine on Nov. 1, several pumpkins topped with new fallen snow brought back a rush of childhood memories—and a reminder that it’s almost time to turn clocks back.

For starters first thing Wednesday morning, I flashed back to a fieldtrip to the James Whitcomb Riley home and museum in Indianapolis while in elementary school in Muncie, Indiana. Our class had taken a bus trip to the Victorian home where James Whitcomb Riley lived late in life for 23 years until his death at age 67 in 1916.

Those snowcapped pumpkins reminded me of Riley’s poem, “When the Frost is on the Punkin,” and the clever way he wrote poetry in a dialect attributed to farm folks in Indiana.

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And in a most nostalgic moment, I recalled my Grandma Mitchell’s reciting the last line of “Little Orphant Annie,” a poem I welcomed her to read to me at bedtime during summer vacations on my grandparents’ farm. I remember how she always changed her voice when she recited the last line of every stanza, “An’ the Gobble-uns ‘at gits you… Ef you Don’t Watch Out!” And she’d tickle me!

Little Orphant Annie’s come to our house to stay,
An’ wash the cups an’ saucers up, an’ brush the crumbs away,
An’ shoo the chickens off the porch, an’ dust the hearth, an’ sweep,
An’ make the fire, an’ bake the bread, an’ earn her board-an’-keep;
An’ all us other childern, when the supper things is done,
We set around the kitchen fire an’ has the mostest fun
A-list’nin’ to the witch-tales ‘at Annie tells about,
An’ the Gobble-uns ‘at gits you… Ef you Don’t Watch Out!

As times change, thoughts of bedtime stories and helping my grandmother with chores on my grandparents’ farm in Battle Ground, Indiana, bring back plenty of memories of simpler ways and happy days. (Family Photo, 1953)

Considered the “Hoosier poet,” James Whitcomb Riley likely is best known for “Little Orphant Annie.”

Yet, “When the Frost is on the Punkin” is the poem with the one line repeated most often every autumn, especially by newscasters during the changes of the fall season.

When the Frost is on the Punkin

by James Whitcomb Riley

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.

With thoughts like the tickin’ of a clock that sets a hand a-clicken’…    Today’s keystrokes set back the type of watch known to take a licken’.

Remember to make sure all your clocks reflect the time change this Sun., Nov. 5, 2023. 
 
When going to bed Saturday, set clocks back one hour. At 2AM Sun., Nov. 5, time officially changes back one hour to 1AM. Most Americans dislike the twice-yearly time change. To our disappointment, American leadership in Washington, D.C., has been unable to agree on which time, daylight or standard, to follow permanently.
Turn clocks and time pieces back one hour at 2AM to provide more daylight during the morning hours as the season heads toward winter. And every fall, on the first Sunday in November, the time change claims to give everybody an extra hour to sleep.

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PN Editor
PN Editor
An editor is someone who prepares content for publishing. It entered English, the American Language, via French. Its modern sense for newspapers has been around since about 1800.

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