Saturday, March 12, 2005

You Got to Git Off The Porch

I am intimately acquainted with the road in this photograph. The view, as seen from this angle, leads back to the outside world. Back behind the vantage point of the camera, the road leads up to my grandparent's house. Because I grew up “in town”, my grandparent’s house really was a different world to me, complete with its own dialect and native expressions, which is a whole ‘nother story.

In my childhood, there was always an old dog or two stretched out on the porch of their old house. My grandfather and his sons used to take some of these dogs fox hunting* at night. They would build a fire, put on a pot of coffee, and pop a chew of Red Man tobacco in their mouth*, and then they would sit and listen till the wee morning hours to the dogs running the fox all around them. They could tell where the dogs were by the sound of the barking, and many times, they would drive to another location to be closer to the action. It all seems rather silly to me.

The reason I tell the story is that the dogs that were the successful fox hunting dogs were the ones who were able to stick their noses up in the air, sniff the wind for changes in the movement of the fox, and then adapt their route and their pace to find the fox. They were, as Darwin puts it, the ones who were most responsive to change.

The dogs that failed to respond to the changes in the wind were left at home on the porch the next time the men went out. This is probably the origin of the redneck expression, "that dog won't hunt". In true redneck language, that sentence would be written and spoken like this: 'atair dawg 'on’t hunt.

All I’m saying is, Darwin is not telling me anything I don’t already know about life. Even my grandfather’s dogs (most of them) knew this was true. Of course, responding to any change requires movement. Thus, I would add my own caveat to Darwin's words, if you want to hunt, you got to get up off the porch, which has probably already been said somewhere by some redneck smarter than I.

*no foxes were killed during these hunts, unless they died from strokes brought on by extremely high blood pressure, brought on by being chased all night by a pack of dogs. Best I can understand is that the fox eventually ended up cornered by the dogs, and the game was over and everybody went home and went to bed. I, being a female child, could never go out on these soirées, my mother would never allow that. My goodness, these gentlemen sat around the fire and passed gas during the quiet moments of the hunt. In the world I was raised in, women did not pass gas unless they were in the bathroom. We were not allowed to say the word f-a-r-t, either. We had to say "toot" instead. That's probably more than you wanted to know.

*None of my kinfolk chew tobacco anymore, they may be backwoods people, but they have heard the news that chewing is harmful.


  1. Annie, I loved this! Sounds like east Tennessee and Louisianna aren't that different after all! (And, even though I'm in my mid-40's my mother would STILL tell me off if I said the word f-a-r-t!)

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  3. another *toot*er here - or even more mortifying, we had to say *shoot a bunny*

    ::recoils at memory::

    loved this story - reminds me of an expression my former boss used to say (and he was was as far away from redneck as you could get - a type "a" casino attorney) - "you either run with the big dogs, or you stay on the porch and bark as they go by..."

    i have a silly series of questions i put a "call" out for you to answer over at my blog...please do, if you feel so inclined (it's after my martha thread, you'll see it...)

  4. I loved your post- I live in full on Redneck-ville, so I can relate!

    And FWIW, a f-a-r-t once saved my life.

    Now let's see if the internet comes to a grinding halt with that link there...

    Praying I don't mess anything up,
    Jan :)

  5. Linda, It is amazing to me how far reaching the influence of our mother's can be!

    m2....bunny shooter, oh that cracks me up,I had fun answering your questions.

    JanI checked the link out, the internet did not come to a grinding halt, though I do think it "shot a bunny" once or twice as I was navigating to your link. I had read the story earlier, and cracked up all over again when I saw it again. I could just see all that happening in my overactive little brain.


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