Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Over the River and through the Woods

Who doesn't have childhood memories of going to grandmother and grandfather's house at Christmas time? School is out, it is snowing, and a sense of anticipation is in the air.
Stone arch bridge Butler County, Kansas
Double arch stone bridge over Turkey Creek, Butler County, Kansas

On a Sunday before Christmas in December, the old man took the back roads in Butler County, Kansas. The back roads are the dirt and gravel ones off the highway where not much has changed over the years. In summer, cars kick up storms of dust. In winter, the dust is settled and one only has to worry about a loose patch of gravel. Farmhouses are scattered along the road like lost and lonely stragglers in history's parade. Cattle stand in the pastures, the corn has been harvested and a blanket of snow covers the fields where the turkeys peck for what is left over. The snow and ice make driving hazardous. When the old man came across these two stone arch bridges, his thoughts drift back to childhood.

Today, we go to grandfather's house by car or plane. In 1844, the trip was made by horse and wagon, or if it was snowing, by horse and sleigh. Over the River and Through the Wood, was originally a Thanksgiving poem written by Lydia Maria Child in 1844. At an unknown date the words were set to music and the holiday changed to Christmas.

To Grandfather's House We Go
Over the river, and through the wood,
To Grandfather's house we go;
the horse knows the way to carry the sleigh
through the white and drifted snow.

Over the river, and through the wood,
to Grandfather's house away!
We would not stop for doll or top,
for 'tis Christmas [Thanksgiving] Day.

Over the river, and through the wood—
oh, how the wind does blow!
It stings the toes and bites the nose
as over the ground we go.

Over the river, and through the wood—
and straight through the barnyard gate,
We seem to go extremely slow,
it is so hard to wait!

Over the river, and through the wood—
When Grandmother sees us come,
She will say, "O, dear, the children are here,
bring a pie for everyone."

Over the river, and through the wood—
now Grandmother's cap I spy!
Hurrah for the fun!
Is the pudding done?
Hurrah for the cherry [pumpkin] pie!

No comments:

Post a Comment