Over the Hills and Everywhere


While he pounded, the carpenter told of a nation of folks in Europe, that used to believe in somebody named Thor, who could throw his hammer across mountains and knock out thunder and lightning.

And he talked about what folks believe about wood. How some of them knock on wood, to keep off bad luck. How the ancient folks, lifetimes back, thought spirits lived in trees, good spirits in one tree and bad spirits in another. And a staff of white thorn is supposed to scare out evil.

“Are those things true, Mr. Carpenter?”

“Well, folks took them for truth once. There must be some truth in every belief, to get it started.”

“An outlander stopped here once, with a prayer book. He read to me from it, about how Satan overcame because of the wood. What did he mean, Mr. Carpenter?”

“He must have meant the Tree of Knowledge in the Garden of Eden,” said the carpenter. “You know how Adam and Eve ate of the tree when Satan tempted them?”

“Reckon I do,” Little Anse replied him, for, with not much else to do, he’d read the Book a many times.

“There’s more to that outlander’s prayer,” the carpenter added on. “If Satan overcame by the wood, he can also be overcome by the wood.”

“That must mean another kind of tree, Mr. Carpenter.”

“Yes, of course. Another kind.”

Manly Wade Wellman’s “John the Balladeer” stories are full of the folklore of the Ozarks and Appalachians (and other places, as well). On The Hills and Everywhere is actually a Christmas story, but it seems appropriate for this Easter Sunday, as well.

Wishing a happy and beautiful Easter to those who celebrate it, and a beautiful day to those who don’t.

You can read my previous post about the John the Balladeer stories here. The collection of John the Balladeer short stories is now only available here online. It’s out of print, but supposedly Amazon still sells used copies.

The painting above is Gordon Hill (1897) by T.C. Steele. Sourced from WikiPaintings.

2 thoughts on “Over the Hills and Everywhere

  1. Lately, I’ve been seeing novels pop up set in the Ozarks and Appalachian country. It’s definitely a place teeming with American folklore. You are the second person today to recommend such a work. There is always something so brooding and possibly evil about these places (at least in stories!).

    Have a lovely Easter!

    1. The regions definitely has some — I can’t say uniquely American folklore, because everything comes from someplace else, really — but it’s somehow got the feel of being “from here”, not something borrowed from, say, an English ghost story. I really liked the John the Balladeer tales.

      My Easter has been lovely so far — I hope your day has been lovely, too.

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