‘When the frost is on the pumpkin’

JAMES WHITCOMB RILEY, 1849 – 1916, writer, poet, author. Indiana University photo

Laura Dean Bennett
Staff Writer

My mom was a great one for throwing a snippet of memorized verse into a conversation. I think they must have focused on memorization at the school in Cass and her high school in Renick.

Anyway, the line, “when the frost is in the punpkin,” always came up around this time of year. It’s been running through my head for days now, so I looked it up. It was such a pleasure re-reading this old standard.

I thought maybe our readers might enjoy it this week:

“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 sausage, 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!

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