By Earline Smith Crews
Guest Writer 

That's right, it's the time for violet picking


January 16, 2020

Our time to pick violets was when the first one was found. Sometime around the end of February we started looking for violets. Best places were in the woods that had been controlled or purpose burned over. Usually the burns were done in the first months of each year so as to control the underbrush or have tender grasses for the free-range livestock that was part of our world.

Circa 1946/47 the open range laws for livestock put citizen on notice to fence up the cows/hogs/goats etc. The years before, stock ranging about kept our woods trampled of excess underbrush and snakes. Having them under fencing stopped the wrecking of automobiles and killing of stock. As WWII had ended the economy improved. The building boom, brought on by all our "Boys" coming home, getting married and making babies; caused need for housing. Things changed. But violet picking never changed.

We always announced the first violet find. Plans were made for our "pick" on the next Sunday afternoon. We gathered and headed to the burn where the beautiful little flowers were sure to be found. Walking slowly, heads down, scanning while chattering about whatever kids chattered about. Our nearest neighbors were in the hunt club: Helen-"Hellern,” Virginia-"Gin'yer," Vila-"Viller." My sister and I had to drag along our two younger sisters to give Mama a break. If they went, our younger cousin Barbara Ann-"Boo" had to be invited. Mercy!

We shouted and ran to pick the violets that showed dark green with the violet color on stems. They needed to be picked as far down to the root as possible, otherwise we couldn't make them into a bouquet for Mama or tie them into a pretty nosegay. Some adult had used the word "nosegay," and we adopted that word for the clutches of flowers that were found and carried in sweaty palms for hours on those wonderfully fresh and sunshine-y afternoons of our childhood. The smell of violets made my head spin.

Eventually, we tired of picking violets and dragging little sisters through briars and brambles and over streams trickling downhill from overfilled ponds. We stopped at the edges of those ponds to look for clumps of tadpole eggs. Bored with that, we took sticks to stir up the clumps as we decided there had to be a million in excess.

We soon headed home to play in our playhouses outlined with pine straw and furnished with planks and cans taken from the rubbish piles. We put the limp nosegay of violets into a small jar to decorate our tables. When the sun slanted, we knew it was time to head home; but not before we pulled the petals off some of the violets to see the little man washing his feet in the tub.

Don't believe me, try it.

You can check out Earline’s blog and buy a copy of her first book “Life With the Top Down” at:


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