It’s spring. How do I know? Not from the groundhog, but from ants. There are ants in my bathroom and in the kitchen. And last night I noticed a large, unattractive bug scurrying under the fridge that looked somewhat like a stink bug. There’s also a rather dainty and innocuous spider living in the corner of my bedroom. If, on the off chance I decide to clean, I will not squish him, but instead gently toss him outside. From my 20 plus years of living in the southern Appalachians, I’ve noticed my own signs that warmer weather is on the way, and these are some that have proven to be reliable. Next, there will be wasps. After that, and maybe one more dusting of the white stuff, I’ll be able to sit in the sun and get my (much needed) Vitamin D the natural way.
I’ve recently become interested in signs, superstitions, and spells of southern Appalachia and have begun to research the many bits of folklore I’ve heard through the years, along with actual stories from friends and neighbors. Turns out, if I watch the smoke from my neighbor’s chimney close enough, I may be able to predict the weather. So, as I drive in to work, I take note of how the smoke hangs and if the birds are active, as both are alleged predictors of if the weather will clear or change.
I also think a lot about heritage and place. I live not far from Cherokee County, NC, and the Cherokee, before driven out, lived on the land I now make home. Turns out that I even have some Native American blood (thrown in with some Russian and Polish) in me. I sometimes wonder if some my paternal ancestors lived in the same spot I do now – why not? I think in the end we are all related somehow. And the Cherokee (or Tsalagi) traditions mixed with the Scots and Irish settlers to create the lore specific to this area. I want to know more about these stories and spells, and I also want to explore my own personal observations that evolve into a more personal lore or narrative. On that note, if you live in the southern Appalachians, I’d love to hear your stories – things passed down such as superstitions, beliefs, practices that you are open to sharing. How have you have kept or tossed aside any of these beliefs? If you are inclined to share, use the contact option above to send me your story. In the meantime, watch for ants in the house. They may very well be our angels of spring.