‘Hotter than love in August’

Published 7:12 pm Tuesday, October 25, 2016

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Winslow Tyler of Rushmere understands and loves the rural sayings that color our conversations here in Southeast Virginia.

So, when he read the past couple of weeks’ Short Rows, he was taken back to his youth and his grandmother’s contribution to our culture.

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“Hotter than love in August” is pretty much self-explanatory and was one of her favorite and most descriptive expressions, Tyler recalled. It’s also one that has never appeared in the Short Rows, so I wanted to lead off with it this week with thanks to this county native for sharing it.

Time and distance have always consumed much of man’s linguistic energy, in the South as elsewhere.

Rural Southeast Virginians didn’t get in a hurry, they would “get in a swivet.” If a mother wanted the kids out from under foot, she’d tell them to “skeddable.” And something that was happening quite slowly might be taking as long as “until the cows come home.”

Country measures of distance are generally less than precise, but quite descriptive. “As the crow flies” refers to a straight line. “Up the road a piece” is a fairly vague description that might be less or more than “a country mile,” is certainly longer than 5,280 feet, but no one knows quite how much longer. Whether you actually traveling or arguing a point, going “around your elbow to get to your thumb” means going further than is necessary.

Something might be described as “over yonder,” a fairly vague reference to direction and distance, often accompanied by a nod of the head in the general direction being described, and “these parts” refers to the local community.

Whether you are actually traveling or have an arduous task to complete, you’ll be advised to “put your head down” and begin. You might also be reminded that you can’t get to a desired place until you “put your foot in the path” and begin.

Actual travel could involve country roads so rough that they would “shake your gizzard loose.” And if you were thoroughly tired when you arrived at the end of a trip, or a task, you might be described as “rode hard and put away wet.” You might also be described as “wore slap out.”

Slap is a favorite country word, in fact, and might also be used to describe damage, as from a wind storm, which might have left a born “tore slap up.”

Before I forget it, Tyler also mentioned one of his personal favorites — and one of mine as well. Presently, he recalled was, and still is in come quarters, pronounced “presny” or even “preny” in its most efficient form.