One winter, it was so cold that the dawn froze solid. The sun got caught between two ice blocks, and the earth iced up so much that it couldn’t turn. The first rays of sunlight froze halfway over the mountain tops. They looked like yellow icicles dripping towards the ground.
A tall tale depicts the wild adventures of extravagantly exaggerated folk heroes. Often told around the campfire, these stories are meant to entertain their audiences, who appreciate the wildly outsized claims of the storyteller.
Away down South, an old custom dictates that if someone comes up to you on Christmas Day and says “Christmas gift” before y’all do, why y’all are obliged to give that person a present. Mind you, the custom does not say what sort of present y’all should give! But those of us who hail from the South consider ourselves to be gentlefolk. The gifts given and received in this manner are good enough to keep the custom alive and well…
Something people often ask about, and you might be curious also, are the trees you see along the river with the kind of yellowish orange trunk, skin-like bark. They look like someone has been peeling the bark off of them. Those are called Madrone trees, and what gives them that appearance is that’s actually what happens to those trees. The brittle outer bark of the Madrone tree is deftly peeled away, on a regular basis, by the Madrone monkeys that live along the river.
One day, Brer Rabbit and Brer Fox and Brer Coon and Brer Bear and a lot of other animals decided to work together to plant a garden full of corn for roasting. They started early in the morning and raked and dug and raked some more, breaking up the hard ground so it would be ready for planting. It was a hot day, and Brer Rabbit got tired mighty quick. But he kept toting off the brush and clearing away the debris ’cause he didn’t want no one to call him lazy.
One fine morning, Brer Fox decided to plant him a patch of goober peas. He set to with a will and before you know it, he had raked and hoed out a beautiful patch of ground and he put in a fine planting of peas. It didn’t take too long before those goober vines grew tall and long and the peas ripened up good and smart.
Well now, that rascal Brer Fox hated Brer Rabbit on account of he was always cutting capers and bossing everyone around. So, Brer Fox decided to capture and kill Brer Rabbit if it was the last thing he ever did! He thought and he thought until he came up with a plan. He would make a tar baby!
Back in the old days, Brother Lizard was an awful lot like Brother Frog, meaning he could sit upright like a dog. Things were like this for quite a spell. Then one day when they were walking down the road by their swamp, Brother Lizard and Brother Frog spotted some real nice pastureland with a great big pond that was on the far side of a great big fence.
Well now, Brother Rabbit had made friends with Old Man Tarrypin, a big turtle that lived in the pond near his house. Brother Rabbit and Old Man Tarrypin liked to pull tricks on Brother Fox, and that rascally fellow got pretty mad about it.
Well, it was a crisp autumn day, don’t ya know, and Brother Fox, he decided he wanted to go hunting. He’d made his peace with Brother Rabbit a few months back, and he thought it would be a fine thing if they went hunting together. So, Brother Fox stopped by Brother Rabbit’s place and invited him to come along.
The gravel bar on our left is called, Dunkelberger gravel bar. The reason I mention it to you, is because it is one of the finest places on the whole Rogue River to fish from the bank. If you have a boat you can fish most anywhere, but if you’re consigned to the bank – and I know a lot of people who prefer it – then this is where you want to go.
Well now, one winter it was so cold that all the geese flew backward and all the fish moved south and even the snow turned blue. Late at night, it got so frigid that all spoken words froze solid afore they could be heard. People had to wait until sunup to find out what folks were talking about the night before…
Shortly after I got married, I went to settle on the north side of the Big Muddy with my new wife, Mrs. Davy Crockett. Now a cousin of my wife’s packed his bags and came along with us. He had been to Cincinnati and had got a great education for them days. He could grammar-itize and geography-itize and philosophize.
Now everyone knows that Alfred Bulltop Stormalong was the ultimate sailor. He was the captain of a mighty ship known as the Courser, which was so wide that she couldn’t sail into Boston Harbor and so tall that the mast was hinged into the middle so it could be taken down to avoid the sun and the moon whenever they passed by.
Long ages ago, when the first people roamed the land, a little yellow moon floated across the sky in the wake of the bigger one that is still shining. Melgasoway, a boy who – like other boys his age – would rather practice with his bow and arrows, go fishing and swimming, climb trees and pick berries than gather firewood and do errands, was sent by his mother to fetch a pumpkin out of a cornfield, for supper.
Well, they say that Davy Crockett, the most famous bear hunter in the U.S. of A, once ran for election in Congress. He was campaigning in town one day, standing on a big ol’ stump an talking to a big ol’ crowd, when one of the men complained, saying he was mighty thirsty. ‘Course, that set the whole crowd off, don’t ya know. They said they wanted free drinks, and they wanted Davy to pay fer ’em out of his own pocket. If he didn’t pay, he wouldn’t get elected.
Take a look over at this gravel bar on our left. It’s called Bony Point, and we saw something here the other day that I thought was kind of interesting so I thought I’d mention it. You see where the gravel bar meets the tree line up there and how it forms those shadows? Well, standing back there in those shadows was a big old Sasquatch. And, this isn’t unusual, because we have a lot of Sasquatches down here. But, we had some people on board who had never seen one, so we idled down to watch.
Now it happened that there was a mining camp in Colorado where more than an average number of the miners were bald. An enterprising hair tonic salesman from Kentucky decided to take advantage of this golden opportunity, so he made the trip north. It was a rainy summer evening. The salesman was headed towards the mining camp with four bottles of hair tonic under his arm. As he was crossing one of the trout streams which lead to the Arkansas River, the salesman slipped and dropped two bottles of hair tonic into the water. The bottles broke, and the hair tonic spilled into the stream…
Now the Pennsylvania hoop snake is something to be reckoned with. It is long, and its colors vary with the type of whisky you’ve been drinking. But everyone agrees that you can tell a hoop snake from a regular snake by the way it moves. When a hoop snake travels around, it grabs its tail (with the poison stinger at the end) in its mouth and rolls along until it sees something it wants to sting. Then it whips the stinger out of its mouth quick enough and lashes out with its tail…
A visitor to Mississippi decided to take a walk along the river in the cool of the evening. His host warned him that the mosquitoes in the area had been acting up lately, tormenting the alligators until they moved down the river. But the visitor just laughed and told his host he wasn’t to be put off from his evening constitutional by a few mosquitoes…
Have you ever encountered the Mosquito of the North Country? You thought they were pretty well-developed animals with keen appetites, didn’t you? Then you can appreciate what Paul Bunyan was up against when he was surrounded by the vast swarms of the giant ancestors of the present race of mosquitoes, getting their first taste of human victims.
Because he was so much younger than Babe and was brought to camp when a small calf, Benny was always called the Little Blue Ox although he was quite a chunk of an animal. Benny could not, or rather, would not haul as much as Babe nor was he as tractable but he could eat more.
Davy Crockett done married the prettiest, the sassiest, the toughest gal in the West, don’t ya know! Her name was Sally Ann Thunder Ann Whirlwind and she was all that and then some! She was tougher than a grumpy she-bear and faster than a wildcat with his tail on fire and sweeter than honey, so that even hornets would let her use their nest for a Sunday-go-to-Meeting hat.
Well, the spring floods here in Vermont are mighty fierce, doncha know. One young farmer named Tom got trapped one year when the river started rising near his place. He watched the water creep up to his front porch, and then through the front door, and then on up the steps until he and his wife were trapped in their upstairs bedroom.
There is a tale once told of a Mississippi riverboat captain who called all of the passengers to the top deck in the middle of the night. When the announcement was made, everyone hurried topside, wondering fearfully what had occasioned the disruption in their sleep.
Well now, when old Johnson came to town, I knew there’d be trouble. That Yankee Peddler was a scoundrel if ever I saw one. But I was laid up with my rheumatism when he arrived, so I couldn’t do anything about it.
Now everyone in the West knows that Pecos Bill could ride anything. No bronco could throw him, no sir! Fact is, I only heard of Bill getting’ throwed once in his whole career as a cowboy. Yep, it was that time he was up Kansas way and decided to ride him a tornado.
Well now Pecos Bill was born in the usual way to a real nice cowpoke and his wife who were journeying west with their eighteen children. Bill’s Ma knew right from the start that he was something else. He started talkin’ before he was a month old, did his teething on his Pa’s bowie knife and rode his first horse jest as soon as he learned to sit up on his own. When he started to crawl, Pecos Bill would slither out of the wagon while his Mama was cookin’ supper and wrestle with the bear cubs and other wild animals that roamed the prairies….
Well now, Texas jest became too tame for Pecos Bill once he killed off all the bad men, so he struck out for New Mexico, looking for a hard outfit. He asked an old trapper he met on the way where he could find a hard outfit, and the trapper directed Bill to a place where the fellers bit nails in half for fun. It sounded like a promisin’ place to Bill, so he set off. But his durned fool hoss got its neck broke on the way, and Bill found himself afoot…
Now, Pecos Bill had a way with wimmen. No doubt. He had dozens of wives during his time. But his one true love was Slue-foot Sue. She was his first wife – and she could ride almost as good as Bill himself…