Merry Christmas, 2013

Leaning Toward Sawyer
     When Sal asked me to research the term “leaning or tilting toward sawyer”, I was in a pickle.  Every explanation that I found was different from any other.  Even the labels for such a saying:  colloquialism, Yankeeism, Down-East expression, regionalism, to name a few,   stirred up a muddle of confusion.   

     Fortunately A Treasury of Vermont Folklore[1] sat covered in dust on my bookshelf and under the section Folk-Say I found the following explanation: 
“Leaning toward Sawyer’s” was said when someone went out of a house surreptitiously or as though going for a drink when he should not.  A family by the name of Sawyer kept a store where drinks could be purchased many years ago on Sugar Hill.”[2] 
While I do not doubt that this was said somewhere in New Hampshire on Sugar Hill, it did not quite fit the bill.  I kept looking. 
     I felt that I was getting closer to the interpretation of Sal’s old timer when I read the following: 
“Lean toward Jesus” —a carpenter’s expression for something slanted, out of plumb.”[3]   The old building in Sal’s watercolor was definitely slanting, tilting and leaning.
But leaning toward Jesus was not leaning toward Sawyer.
     Was Sawyer a family name as described in the tavern on Sugar Hill?  That idea picked up some steam when I read an article on-line.  It seems there is one phrase book for down-east talk which says a man named Sawyer owned a junk yard somewhere on the coast of Maine.  When a dilapidated boat would be hauled there, the locals would say that it was “Leaning toward Sawyers” meaning that its sailing days were over and the boat was ready for the junk yard. 
     But the writer of the article absolutely states:  “This is not correct.  If a thing leans toward the sawyers, it means we’re in a bind, a fix, a to-do.”[4]  His idea that the term comes from the logging industry and refers to a tree being cut and might be leaning toward the guy who was cutting the tree—the sawyer-- makes sense.  I, on the other hand, do not feel that we can be so definite about Yankee expressions. 
What means one thing in one part of the country might be adapted to mean something else in another part of the country?  A Vermonter visiting in Maine might hear that the old boat was leaning toward sawyer.   Back home he might see an old barn that was ready to fall down and say to a neighbor that it was “leaning toward sawyer.”  Perhaps even in the old days someone was trying to be politically correct and decided to use another term for Jesus and substituted Sawyer. 
The idioms in our language spice it up and give it  local color.  These sayings have been passed on in an oral tradition and we all know what happens as the story is passed from one individual to the next.   When Sal sent her watercolor of the old mill,   I could see that it was aptly named Leaning toward Sawyer.

[1]   A Treasury of New England Folklore:  Stories, Ballads. and Traditions of the Yankee People, Edited by      B.A. Botkin, Crown Publishers, New York, 1947, p.805.
[2]   Manuscript of the Federal Writer’s Project of the Works Progress Administration for the State of NH.
[3]  Facts on File Dictionary of American Regionalisms by Robert Hendrickson (Facts on File, New York, 2000), p.385.
[4]  “The deep-woods origins of Down-East Expressions by John Gould, The Christian Science Monitor—, April 26, 2002.  

watercolor by Sally Wickham Mollomo, 2013
This painting was inspired by a photo taken years ago in Chittenden, Vermont. I didn't know if the local expression is "leaning,"or "tilting to Sawyer." Eons ago, an old timer told me it referred to old barns that are about to fall down. Linda solved this question!

Bluebird House Hunting

Flocks of Bluebirds flying south on a beautiful late October day checking out the Real Estate.
 Check List:
Newly cleaned Bluebird houses. Check!
Freshly mowed pastures. Check!
Telephone wires to perch from. Check!
Ponds with running water. Check!
Free Rent. Check!

We will definitely be back next Spring!

Sally posted: 11/03/2013

Baby Snake Stuck in Screen Door

June 10, Oh my!  As I walked out to my studio this morning I suddenly looked up to see a beautiful baby corn snake struggling to free itself from the TOP of my screen door.  I did not want to tug on the screen for fear of strangling the little guy!  I gently wiggled the screen until he fell 6' to the terra ferma.

SDW posting

Welcome Home Eastern Phoebe Nest

May 15    Upon our arrival home, we discovered an Eastern Phoebe nest directly above our main entrance!  What to do? Painters arriving tomorrow at 8a.m.  The nest is built from woven twigs covered  with bright green moss.  It has four small cream colored eggs and one larger brown spotted eggs.  Obviously a cow bird has planted its progeny in this beautiful nest!
SDW posting

Eastern Bluebird Doubles

May 16   Woke up this morning to two pairs of Eastern Blue birds on the wires.  Unusual because we rarely have more than one pair.  LL thinks we have kidnapped them but I think it because our neighborhood is now a cat-free zone!
SDW posting

Mama Snapping Turtle Saga

June 20   a very wet and rainy day here in Central Vermont.  As I looked out over our Lupine wild garden, I saw a turtle foraging through the dirt.  A closer look I realized it was a large Northern Snapping Turtle digging a hole in preparation to lay her eggs.  Although camouflaged, her hooked snout, diamond back shaped shell, and long prehistoric spiked tail was a dead give-away!  Beware was her warning so I looked but did not touch

 June 23  Three days later, I noticed her body-print in the mud out by the pond, about 150 yards away.  Then suddenly, I turned and noticed two perfectly round white orbs on the bottom on the pond, inches away from where I was standing.  I took off my Sloggers and waded into the pond to retrieve the eggs which I was sure would not incubate exposed in that cold water.  I walked them back to the Lupine garden a deposited them in the original hole the Mama Snapper had previously dug.

Now we wait for the hatchlings to to emerge in 16 weeks, which will be the last week in September, or the first week in October.
SDW posting

Ye Olde Sugar House

Spring in VT

When snow is disappearing

And the sap begins to run,

I'd rather be in Vermont,

Than any place under the sun

                     -- Lena F. Colton

from  her  collection of poems 
   Manna For The Soul

Redwing Blackbird

Mar 10     The male Redwing Blackbirds added their voices to the chorus of birds here this morning;  the Mourning Doves are spending more time now that the temperature has risen into the forties.  It begins to feel like spring.  . 

These Crimson Aerial Creatures...

Redpoll Watercolor by Sally Wickham © 2013

“...I am reminded of the incredible phenomenon of small birds in winter, --that ere long, amid the cold and powdery snow, as it were a fruit of the season, will come twittering a flock of delicate crimson-tinged birds, lesser redpolls, to sport and feed on the buds just ripe for them on the sunny side of a wood, shaking down the powdery snow there in their cheerful feeding, as if it were high midsummer to them. These crimson aerial creatures have wings which would bear them quickly to the regions of summer, but here is all the summer they want.  What a rich contrast!  tropical colors, crimson breasts, on cold white snow!”

                                                   -- Quote from the Journals of  Henry David Thoreau

Mourning Dove

Feb. 24    This morning I heard the call of a Mourning Dove—first time this year.   What a sweet sound!  That in addition to the distant drum of a woodpecker, a few chickadees and jays were the only sounds to be heard when I stepped out early to see the new fallen snow.  

Bird Nest?

Feb 7     I noticed a bird nest about 12 feet up in a young maple sapling.  It is very round and carefully constructed of fine grasses and downy fibers. A straw-like piece forms a circle at the top and the whole nest was securely fastened in several places to branches.  My conclusion is that it may be the nest of a Yellow Warbler.  It is a spot where I have not done much bird watching and plan to visit the site frequently come spring

Magic Winter: Luce Farm

Magic winter
Magic world
Calling me back to memories
So wide and known.
Separating myself from the dire day
Where hard labor wins my bread,
What I truly seek is
Snowy freedom.

stanzas from Christmas Time, by Paul Mollomo, II

Mole's Map

Jan. 18     Walked  up to the old oak corner and then around the pasture.  A mole left tracks and tunnels all over the field.  His ramblings in the snow resembled a giant map of the world and I wondered if he found a safe route home. 

Common Redpolls

Jan. 13    It was easy to identify the lively flock of about fifty birds at the feeder  as Common Redpolls. Their sharply pointed bill and  the  black spot in the middle of the throat were my first clues to who these Arctic visitors might be.    Looking out the window through binoculars, the red crown-cap became obvious.  Unlike the Chickadees who take one seed, then fly off the eat it, the Common Redpolls have a pouch in their throat that allows them to store many seeds.  Redpolls spook easily and  arrive  and depart as a cohesive unit twittering cheerful notes in their flight.  

White-breasted Nuthatch

Jan. 10     The White-breasted Nuthatch is as happy upside down as he is right side up.   A polite bird, he squeaks a nasal thank you when I fill the feeders with fresh sunflower  seeds.  I am fond of his jaunty profile that is enhanced by  a longish turned-up beak.  

Baltimore Oriole Nest

Jan. 6     Today   I  noticed  another Baltimore Oriole's  nest swaying on a  branch over the road in an  American  Elm tree that has so far escaped the ravages of Dutch Elm Disease.  I  have waited and watched  as the tree  grew  in girth and height and hoped that it would someday  be large enough to welcome an oriole family.  The summer of 2012 was the first time that happened  but I  never knew  it until today.