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From: "Irish Mom" <>
Subject: [IRELAND] Cold Hands, Warm Heart and other Proverbial Wisdom (from the 'Sunday Afternoon Rocking' series) by Jan Philpot
Date: Sun, 21 Oct 2001 13:21:28 -0500


Sunday Afternoon Rocking

Cold Hands, Warm Heart and other Proverbial Wisdom (from the "Sunday
Afternoon Rocking" series)

"Cold hands, warm heart,
Dirty feet, and no sweetheart".

Thus began the ditty I heard all my life, and I think for a whole lot of my
early years I flat believed it. Didn't help any that my hands stayed
perpetually cold and I was fond of going barefoot. Then of course came the
clincher. The other thing I heard all my life: "Sweep under your feet and
you will never get married!" And since my Mama was a whirlwind dervish
with a broom, my fate was sealed.

Of course it did not work out that way at all, but I surely believed what I
was told for a good many years. And repeated all the same things to my own
daughters, who rolled their eyes and planted their feet firmly on the floor
when a broom was flourished. Strangely, my husband seemed never to have
heard these wise women sayings. And that has been a perpetual
puzzlement. Was it because as a male he was not privy to the wisdom of
experience through generations of females? Or perhaps because he grew up
in a city and not quite so close to his roots? I tend to believe it must
be the latter, as I do not think that only the female persuasion passes on
generational wisdom. I heard too many prolific thoughts along the same
line from my uncles as I grew up to believe that only the female gender is
entitled to the accumulated wisdom of the ages.

Surely generational wisdom is what it is. Someone's experience somewhere
back in time must have contributed to the knowledge that salt under a
doormat keeps witches at bay (for goodness sake don't spill it!), playing
in fire will cause you to wet the bed, and if your nose itches, company is
coming. Then too, all young hopeful maidens know that getting your belly
wet while washing dishes will be for sure the reason you marry a
drunkard. Now since these sayings are by no means limited to my own
family, and since I have indeed lived several places, and everyone seems to
know all about them (well, most wise folks do), seems to be that there has
to be some truth to it. Or as my Pa would have said: "Smoke behind the
fire". It seems to me that someone somewhere must have had such dramatic
experience with such circumstances that the proverbial wisdom was broadcast
loud and clear, and passed around to help other folks as well. How else to
explain that absolutely "everyone knows that"!?

I am not one to argue with traditional folklore. I am mighty careful not
to step on a grave when visiting a cemetery and to whisper a soft "Excuse
me, I'm sorry" if I do. I know good and well not to go terrapin hunting
because if it bites I will have to let it remain attached to my toe until a
storm decides to send some blessed thunder. I pay close attention to my
dreams, and know good and well not to let a bird get loose in the house. I
do not consider myself either backward or ignorant, and will place my
transcripts and resumes and degrees proudly up beside most folks. But I
don't argue with traditional folklore, thank you. There are more kinds of
enlightenment than one and "better to be safe than sorry".

Generational wisdom is what it is, and wise mamas and papas used gullible
ears to get things done without a lot of harping, switching, or the dubious
modern methods of "time out" and "you've got till I count to three". You
tell a sweet young thing she won't have a sweetheart if she doesn't wash
her feet, well, she will wash them. You tell her she best not get her feet
swept under, and she will volunteer to sweep the floor herself. You tell a
wayward young fellow itching to prove how grown up he is that he will wet
the bed, and he will stay away from that fire quicker than if you tell him
he might catch his pants legs on fire. Pretty smart parenting, if you ask
me. Of course there are those sayings that I can't seem to fathom having a
thing to do with childhood growth and development. In those cases I simply
obey. And you won't catch me opening an umbrella indoors, nor moving into
another house without buying a new broom!

Just a thought,
jan

Copyright 2001janPhilpot
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Thanks, jan)
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