Appalachian Thursday–Stump Water
I have freckles. More than an adorable smattering across my nose. More than a dusting across my cheeks. I have a freckle on my lip, on my eyelids, my ears. And when I was a kid I wanted them GONE. Luckily (or not) there are quite a few folklore remedies for freckles including washing your face in stump water–which is readily available in the mountains of Appalachia.
You can also wash freckles in dew before sunrise on the first of May. Or, you can use the water from an urn in a graveyard to rinse them away. (Hint: None of these work.)
As an adult I’m delighted with my freckles. I credit them with tricking people into thinking I’m younger than I am. And more innocent. When you still look a bit like Laura Ingalls, people tend to think you’re sweet ; )
Of course, stump water is good for other things as well–curing warts for example. The way I heard it, you were to soak a dishcloth in stump water and then apply it to the wart. But Mark Twain had a different take on things.
In The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Tom and Huck have the following exchange about curing warts:
“Why, spunk-water. . . You got to go all by yourself, to the middle of the woods, where you know there’s a spunk-water stump, and just as it’s midnight you back up against the stump and jam your hand in and say:
‘Barley-corn, barley-corn, injun-meal shorts,
Spunk-water, spunk-water, swaller these warts,’
and then walk away quick, eleven steps, with your eyes shut, and then turn around three times and walk home without speaking to anybody. Because if you speak the charm’s busted. . .”
It probably doesn’t work, but if you want to get rid of something badly enough, might be worth a shot. Right?