Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Talking to hear your head rattle!

That's what my Mammaw Jones used to say to a room full of grandchildren.

"Pond my Swanee", (another thing she used to say), "you all are just talkin' to hear your heads rattle..."

This wondrous auditory came back to me while I was upstairs and heard the dog bark several times. When I went down, I asked Bern, "why's your dog barking?" (Like most people, I suspect, the dog belongs to the other person when misbehaving!)

"Just to hear himself bark," she said, and I remembered Mammaw Jones. Thanks, Bela and Bern, for that memory. It is precious.

About that "Pond my Swanee" saying Lina Manona Sadler Jones used the say: I tried for years to get her to tell me what it meant and she couldn't. Then, English major that I am, I happened across a mild-curse from Elizabethan times.

"Upon my swanlea!" was a saying of mild surprise and astonishment.

Another thing English majors learned is that the English and Scots-Irish settlers of Appalachia were shut off for a long time from the larger culture and some of the sayings they brought with them endured and were transformed.

"Upon my swanlea!" became, over time, my grandmother's expression of not totally positive astonishment at how her grandchildren could chatter on endlessly.

'Nonie' (a transformation of 'Manona') was one of the best. One of the best ever.

I was blessed to  have been her grandchild.

"Pond my swanee", ain't that the truth....

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some ponderings by an aging white man who is an Episcopal priest in Connecticut. Now retired but still working and still wondering what it all means...all of it.