Ask October: Appalachian Wisdom
The old woman stumbled slowly up the rough path with her eyes lowered.
She spoke to the path. "Path, how can you be made smoother?"
"Ask October," the path answered.
Because she did not understand what the path meant, she trudged on, shivering against the autumn wind.
She spoke to the wind. "Wind, how can you be made warmer?"
"Ask October," the wind whispered.
She shrugged her shoulders and kept climbing.
When she was half-way to the top, her heavy heart began to pound against her breast.
She spoke to her heart. "Heart, how can you be made lighter?"
"Ask October," the heart replied.
Her knees, elbows, fingers and toes complained against the cold.
She spoke to them roughly, "Joints, how can your pain be eased?"
Her joints did not reply.
By then she had reached the top of the ridge, so she turned to go back down.
And there before her was October, clad in an ocean of burgundy, red, orange, yellow and green, her skirts billowing across every ridge and hollow as far as the eye could see.
"October!" the old woman exclaimed. "You surely must be the envy of all the other months. Why has God chosen you to wear the most brilliant garment of them all?"
"Winter is coming," said October. "So drink my beauty with your eyes. Soak it into your skin. Breathe it into your soul."
And the old woman did.
As she descended, the path felt smoother, the wind warmer, and her heart no longer ached. Even her joints refused to complain.
She called to the mountains, "Winter is coming, yes. How will we endure?"
And the wind replied, "Ask October."
-- Rebecca Somoskey, Jewell Ridge, Virginia.
The Nail in the Fence
Once upon a time, there was a little girl with a very bad temper. Her mother, hoping to break her daughter of this bad habit, gave her a bag of nails and told her that every time she lost her temper, she must hammer a nail into the fence.
The very first day, the girl drove 37 nails in to the fence!
Over the next few weeks, as she learned to control her anger, the number of nails gradually dwindled down. She had discovered it was easier to hold her temper than to drive those nails in to that fence.
Finally, the day came when the girl did not lose her temper at all!
She told her mother about it and her mother suggested that the girl now pull out one nail for each day that she was able to hold her temper.
The days passed and the young girl was now able to tell her mother that all of the nails were gone.
The mother then took her daughter by the hand and led her to the fence.
"You have done well, my daughter," she said, "But look at these holes in the fence. The fence will never be the same. When you say things in anger, they leave a scar just like the holes in the fence. You can say, 'I'm sorry,' many times but the wound is still there! A verbal wound is as bad as a physical one."
-- Mary Lord, Wilsonville, Oregon.