The Education of Little Tree by Forrest Carter
I know. I promised this awhile ago, but here we finally go. Get your copy of “The Education of Little Tree” and come along for the hike up the mountains and down the other side. Get out your mountain ways, ‘cuz we gonna need them to git through this’n here book. Spite o every ‘ole thang, we mit git us sum learn’ long the way.
First off, let’s start with some great quotes from the first chapter.
“Granpa said that Granma could read fancy as anybody.”
“It was cracking cold. The moon was out, like half of a fat watermelon, and silvering the road ahead until it curved out of sight.”–We can see, feel, and almost smell that “cracking cold night.” It almost burns the inside of our nose just reading about it.
“I shivered at the blackness of the mountains.”–If you have ever been in the mountains at night, you can feel the huge mass of darkness above you.
Now let’s hit some definitions:
p. 4 – a mountain branch – a creek
p. 4: dog trot – from Wikipedia.
A dogtrot house historically consisted of two log cabins connected by a breezeway or “dogtrot”, all under a common roof. Typically one cabin was used for cooking and dining while the other was used as a private living space, such as a bedroom. The primary characteristics of a dogtrot house is that it is typically one or 1 1⁄2-stories, has at least two rooms averaging between 18 to 20 feet (5.5 to 6.1 m) wide that each flank an open-ended central hall. Additional rooms usually take the form of a semidetached ell or shed rooms, flanking the hall to the front or rear.
The breezeway through the center of the house is a unique feature, with rooms of the house opening into the breezeway. The breezeway provided a cooler covered area for sitting. The combination of the breezeway and open windows in the rooms of the house created air currents which pulled cooler outside air into the living quarters efficiently in the pre-air conditioning era.
Secondary characteristics of the dogtrot house includes placement of the chimneys, staircases, and porches. Chimneys were almost always located at each gable end of the house, with each serving one of the two main rooms. If the house was 1 1⁄2 or the rarer two stories, the necessary staircase was usually at least partially enclosed or boxed-in. The stairway was most commonly placed in one or both of the main rooms, although it was sometimes placed in the open hallway. Although some houses had only the open central hall and flanking rooms, most dogtrots had full-width porches to the front and/or rear.
Here is an interesting link. Someone has taken quotes from “The Education of Little Tree” and added photos to accompany them. It takes a bit for the document to download, but the selection of quotes and photos is nicely done. http://student.agsci.colostate.edu/mcsimp/Little%20Tree.pdf
And here is a student’s overview of the book. Again, photos accompany many of the chapters. http://student.agsci.colostate.edu/awilhel3/land110paper1_001.pdf
p. 5: Grandmother’s Poem – I couldn’t find any extra details about this poem, but here it is reprinted with a photo from this site. http://www.dusd.net/staff/dstone/Resources/11P/na1.htm
A Cherokee Grandmother’s
|They now have sensed him coming
The forest and the wood-wind
Father mountain makes him welcome with his song
They have no fear of Little Tree
They know his heart is kindness
And they sing, “Little Tree is not alone.”Even silly little Lay-nah
With her babbling, talking waters
Is dancing in the mountains with her cheer
“Listen to my singing
Of a brother come amongst us
Little Tree is our brother, and Little Tree is here.”Awi-usdi, the little deer, and Min-e-lee the quail-hen
Even Kaqu the crow takes up the song”Brave is the heart of Little Tree
And kindness is his strength
And Little Tree will never be alone”
The Promised Place
p. 5: Lay-nah - Most of the Cherokee words in “The Education of Little Tree” have been exposed as not true Cherokee words. I suggest just leaving that alone, and reading the book to learn a different point of view.
Until next time when we learn “The Way”