Louisy Fiddles Up A Storm
Little Louisy was born on the night of the big barn dance down in Shake a Leg 'n Holler. Yup. That's what they say. Seems the folks down there all get together one night a year at the time of the harvest, They gather at Wilson's barn for the big dance for a couple of reasons. First - his barn is just about at the center of the settlement so it's the easiest to get to, and second - his barn has the sturdiest floor. They need that. You see, when the folks of Shake a Leg Holler get together for a big dance, once those old time pickers and fiddlers get going with all those foot stomping tunes, why if the floor wasn't in good solid shape, those folks would stomp clear on through to China!
Farmer Wilson was so happy when he heard the news of Louisy's birth that he decided to make her folks a brand new baby cradle to rock her in. The very next morning he pried loose a couple of boards from his good sturdy floor, took the wood to his wood shop and after a fair bit of sawing, sanding and polishing he came up with the prettiest cradle the folks ever did see.
Louisy's Ma and Pa were all smiles and grins as they laid their new little baby girl in that cradle. Louisy was wailing away like all babies do, but you know what? Minute they set her in that cradle all of the sudden the cradle started just a-rocking back and forth, slow and easy, nice and steady, all by itself. It started rocking away as if it was listening to the rhythm of all those feet that had danced upon it's boards and as if it carried inside of itself all the tunes that had been played in the barn that it came from.
Straightaway Louisy stopped her wailing and giggled and cooed. She even tapped her little pink toes against the sides of it and diddled her little fingers.
"Looks like she trying to fiddle!" said her Pa.
"Looks like it to me," said her Ma.
It was right then and there that they knew that the country's greatest fiddler had been born.
When Louisy was about two years old and starting to walk about the cabin in Shake-a-leg Holler, no longer in need of her cradle, her Pa took the cradle back to Farmer Wilson.
"Wilson," he said. "Louisy looks to her Ma and me like she's got the makings of being a great fiddler. Think you could refashion this here cradle into a fiddle for her? We'd have you rip up a couple more barn boards, but folks might fall clear on through to China at the next dance if you put too many holes in your good sturdy floor."
"Yup," said Wilson. So he did. That's how Louisy got her fiddle. She was already quite acquainted with the feel of the wood from having tapped her toes against it when it was a cradle and she was already familiar with the good rock-a-way rhythm of it. Naturally, first time she tucked that fiddle up to her chubby little chin, she played a song right away.
As Louisy got older her neighbors relied upon her and her fiddle to help them out in times of trouble. Once when Mrs. Riddley's prize hen got broody and wouldn't lay eggs she called Louisy over.
"Think you can fiddle up a chicken song?" she asked. "Something that will get little Tilly here laying again?"
Louisy tucked that fiddle up to her chin and fiddled out a couple of good rooster calls. They were such good rooster calls that the sun, which was already up high and mighty in the sky, was tricked into rising again. Then Louisy fiddled up "Cluck Ol' Hen," "Cacklin' Hen," and for good measure she let fly with "The Chicken Reel." Must have been that just the thought of a flock of hens hiding in a fiddle made that hen just yancy enough to get back to the business of laying eggs and before long little Tilly was laying eggs one right after the other.
Another time the folks at the farm around the mountain couldn't get to the honey in their bee tree. Seems something had made all the bees so angry that no amount of smoking that tree would get them lazy and sleepy enough to let the folks get at their honey. Course with no honey, the folks had no sweetening for their cakes or pies and this made them very sour of temperament - till Louisy heard of the trouble.
She tapped her little feet once or twice and set off down the road. Hearing an angry buzzing coming from a wooded glade just alongside of the road, Louisy started playing on her fiddle. She drew her long wooden bow across the strings slow and easy, then she got it going ticka ticka ticka ticka ticka ticka - till it sounded like a whole hive of bees were buzzing away around her. The bees of course had to stop and have a listen. Why, they had never heard bees buzz and dance like that before.
It didn't take long before all the angry bees in that bee tree were so wrapped up in the sound of bees dancing that was coming out of Louisy's fiddle that right there and then they took to dancing as well and ceased being angry. The folks were able to get at their honey and this of course, sweetened them up right away. Louisy went home fiddling away and all full of sweet cake and pie.
Now the folks all knew Louisy to be the best fiddler in the country and knew that she was able to perform all kinds of magic with her good fiddling. That's how Louisy got to fiddle up a storm.
Seems that the year that Louisy turned ten, there was a big drought. It was so hot and dry that year that the people of Shake-a-leg Holler had to take turns fanning the cornfields to keep the corn from popping. The wheat fields were so dry that they smelled like burnt toast. All the creeks had quit running and the cows were giving powdered milk. No one had to cook their eggs for breakfast because as soon as you cracked them into the pan, they came out of the shells ready fried. Oh, it was a hot, dry summer!
The folks at Shake-a-leg Holler were all mean and crabby. Everyone feared smiling even a little smile lest they crack their faces in the heat. And, of course, with no rain there would be no harvest. And with no harvest, there would be no big barn dance that year. Oh, the folks at Shake-a-leg Holler were in bad trouble - and all because of the drought.
Louisy knew that her fellow townsfolk were in bad shape and racked her little kindhearted brain trying to come up with a way to help them all out.
"Well," she finally said to herself. "The only thing I know how to do is fiddle - so fiddle I will!" Louisy hugged her little wooden barn dance floor fiddle tight to her, and took hold of her bow and headed up Big Mountain where she heard rain got born.
From the top of Big Mountain Louisy could see the dried and withered fields of Shake-a-Leg Holler. Oh, Louisy knew she was going to need to do a whole lot of fiddling if she was to succeed in really fiddling up a drought-breaking storm. She rosined her bow again and again, all the time eyeing the valley beneath her. Finally, she was ready to play. She drew her bow across the strings. A cloud of dust the size of Shake-a-Leg Holler itself rose from her fiddle strings. Twice more she drew her bow. More clouds rose till a whole great big grand thunderhead of fiddle dust covered the top of Big Mountain.
"Well, I got clouds," she said, pretty pleased with herself at the accomplishment. "Now if I can get them dancing, maybe I can get 'em to bump and make some thunder." Chicka-chicka chicka chicka chicka! The clouds started to turn this way and that - dosy-doeing, promenading, and chicken-in-the-hen-housing. All the time Louisy fiddled faster and faster and faster till she had those clouds dancing up such a big crazy dance that they began bumping and knocking into each other.
The folks down in Shake-a-Leg Holler heard the racket and looked up toward the top of Big Mountain. There rolling and bumping around were all of Louisy's clouds of fiddle dust thundering away, dancing and rolling down from the mountain into the valley. PLUCK! A piece of Louisy's music turned into a raindrop and fell from the cloud. PLUCK! PLUCK! More music turned into rain and dropped from the cloud. The big cloud of fiddle dust was having itself a grand old time and was right ready and in the mood for a good barn dance so that's where it headed. Down off Big Mountain it rolled and with it all the notes from Louisy's music. PLUCK! PLUCK! PLUCK! PLUCK! Faster and faster the notes turned to raindrops and poured from the cloud - right over Farmer Wilson's barn and right over the town of Shake-a-Leg Holler. Louisy had fiddled up a storm!
They say even today that if you look toward the mountains and ridges you can still see evidence of the day Louisy fiddled up a storm and got the creeks running again for the folks of Shake-a-Leg Holler. Early in the morning and late in the evening and especially right after a good thunderstorm if you look toward the hollows in the hills where the streams run, you'll see clouds of fiddle dust rising up from the creeks. If you listen really hard and tap your feet a bit a bit for good measure - you might even hear the music!
Copyright Beverley Conrad
1995 All Rights Reserved
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