“When the Frost is on the Punkin”

The most magical time of day around here is just before dusk.  The Moon is rising while the Sun’s fading glow still washes the fields.  Fall leaves shimmer with fiery reds & golds, and their unmistakable spice perfumes the air.  it’s true: each season has its special gifts and fall is especially blessed…


“When the Frost is on the Punkin”

James Whitcomb Riley 1853 – 1916

WHEN the frost is on the punkin and the fodder’s in the shock,
And you hear the kyouck and gobble of the struttin’ turkey-cock,
And the clackin’ of the guineys, and the cluckin’ of the hens,
And the rooster’s hallylooyer as he tiptoes on the fence;
O, it’s then the time a feller is a-feelin’ at his best,
With the risin’ sun to greet him from a night of peaceful rest,
As he leaves the house, bareheaded, and goes out to feed the stock,
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder’s in the shock.

They’s something kindo’ harty-like about the atmusfere
When the heat of summer’s over and the coolin’ fall is here-
Of course we miss the flowers, and the blossoms on the trees,
And the mumble of the hummin’-birds and buzzin’ of the bees;
But the air’s so appetizin’; and the landscape through the haze
Of a crisp and sunny morning of the airly autumn days
Is a pictur’ that no painter has the colorin’ to mock-
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder’s in the shock.

The husky, rusty russel of the tossels of the corn,
And the raspin’ of the tangled leaves as golden as the morn;
The stubble in the furries-kindo’ lonesome-like, but still
A-preachin’ sermuns to us of the barns they growed to fill;
The strawstack in the medder, and the reaper in the shed;
The hosses in theyr stalls below-the clover overhead!-
O, it sets my hart a-clickin’ like the tickin’ of a clock,
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder’s in the shock.

Then your apples all is gethered, and the ones a feller keeps
Is poured around the cellar-floor in red and yaller heaps;
And your cider-makin’s over, and your wimmern-folks is through
With theyr mince and apple-butter, and theyr souse and sausage too!…
I don’t know how to tell it-but ef such a thing could be
As the angels wantin’ boardin’, and they’d call around on me-
I’d want to ‘commodate ’em-all the whole-indurin’ flock-
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder’s in the shock.


James Whitcomb Riley was among the most popular and best-loved writers of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, known for his “uncomplicated, sentimental, and humorous” writing.  Often writing his verses in dialect, his poetry caused readers to recall a nostalgic and simpler time in earlier American history.  Source: Poetry Criticism; Gale Cengage Learning, published 2004.

4 thoughts on ““When the Frost is on the Punkin”

  1. Thanks! Beautiful words…. my favorite line: “The husky, rusty russel of the tossels of the corn.” This is a fun poem to read out loud, isn’t it? Not quite the scene at my house, but my imagination is alive with pictures now.

    1. I liked that part too : )

      There’s an archive online where the author reads his poems – I don’t know the url offhand, but I listened to him read this one & I had a few pretty wrong, lol.

      I’m sure it would pop right up if you Googled…

    1. Thanks Cecilia both for the visit and the good words : )

      I checked in on your blog and we obviously have lots in common, except for the part where I shamelessly would wear my Uggs outside, lol.

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