The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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from the
Heart of the Blue Ridge

A Chinquapin Disaster

By G. M. Allen © 1985-2012

Issue: April, 1985

Did anybody ever tell you about the time I went chinquapin huntin' and lost them in the creek? Well, I know I didn't, and I guess I better not now. If people didn't talk it, maybe I'd better let it lay still!

You say you won't tell anybody? Declare to goodness? Well I don't know why I brought it up, but this is what happened.

I knew that the chinquapins were openin' a right smart, but I didn't expect to find the whole patch up in our bluff field wide open. I didn't go prepared to pick many, just had two small pockets on my apron and dress, and I got them filled in a few minutes. Then I wondered whether to go back to the house for something to carry them in, but that was a good ways extra to walk. So laziness prevailed! Well, I actually didn't want to leave because somebody else might find them, and chinquapins would be bringin' five cents a pound at least.

I had on a pair of full-legged bloomers, and the thought hit me I could use them for pockets well as anything. Nobody was close by to see me put them in there, anyway. So I kept pickin' till I had several pounds swingin' and bumpin' around my knees.

I started home, and behold! Just as I got to the creek, who did I see comin' but that young feller that used to come work at Mr. Miller's every summer. You remember him, Jeff Bradley, don't you? I didn't want him to see me walk with them big lumps bumpin' like I don't know what! So I stopped real still on the crosser and pretended to be watchin' the water, lettin' on I didn't see him at first. I stood still like I was on a stage, fixin' to give a performance, and that's exactly what I did!

Jeff didn't pass me on the bridge; as luck would have it, he stopped to talk! Well, I could feel my face was gettin' red, but I aimed to bluff it out; thought maybe I could. I didn't dare start on with them swaggy things bumpin! And the worst part, I could feel the load start creepin' down my leg! I stared like I saw somethin' behind him, and the second he looked around, I gave it just a slight hitch to try to lift it up higher, and I'll be dad-blamed if the elastic didn't give way in one leg! It come apart where it was sewed together! Chinquapins rattled on the bridge like hail, and every one of them bounced or rolled off into the creek!

Jeff looked pretty amazed, I can tell you! But I just said, "Well, that's not quite all of 'em," sayin' nothin about my system of transportation! I took a handful from my pocket and offered them to him, which he took. He didn't laugh, but he had a real funny expression on his face, I can tell you. I suppose he never had seen a girl sheddin' chinquapins before, nor one with a loose bloomer leg danglin' several inches below the hem of her dress! Them kind of things never happen to city girls, like he was used to!

Well, Jeff took the chinquapins and went on, maybe grinnin' the least bit, and I managed to make it home with the load in the other leg still with me. Then I told Ma what had happened, and busted out to bawlin'. She first tried to make me feel better, but then spoiled it all by laughin' at me herself when I asked her, "Did you ever hear of anybody else's bloomer bustin' at the bottom and sowin' chinquapins in the creek?"

Well, nobody else ever mentioned it to me, but I did hear of Jeff sayin' I was a right pretty girl, but I seemed to have some of the instincts of a chipmunk. O' course that had to be what he was referrin' to! But I reckon he was too much of a gentleman to tell the whole tale as it happened.

Did you ever hear tell of such a thing as anybody's bloomer bottom bustin' out at such a time? Now, don't you ever tell that on me!