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Hoopin Holler Haint

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  • papasar
    Great story Paul. You have a real talent for story telling.. Are you sure you are leaving all the booze for the haints?

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  • Paul_Guraedy
    started a topic Hoopin Holler Haint

    Hoopin Holler Haint

    In a recent post there was a remark that there must be a story behind "Hoopin Holler Hermit". In an "epistle" I invented the "haint". I now leave Whopping Hollow only when necessity forces me too. Friends started referring to me as the Hoopin Holler Hermit. Here is the story behind the "Haint and the Hermit".
    August, 2008, The Dog Days of Summer

    My Frien’s, it’s hot and muggy here in the Ozarks. Summertime has come “unto these hills” and it’s a green world. Hot weather has turned my contemplations to the impacts of air-conditioning.
    Americans are becoming a society of hermits. Most of us don’t even have to brave the cold world of winter to get more wood for the stove. Certainly, in the summer, we follow Kipling’s advice (of course we aren’t mad dogs or Englishmen); but, we don’t sally forth from our cool bunkers into the heat of the noonday sun. Conditioned air has combined with television, cell phone, and the computer to prevent our gathering with neighbors each evening on cool lawns. No more truly getting to know folks by hearing of their daily activities. No more cementing of friendships through the mortar of familiarity. No more ghost stories while dark shadows conceal who knows what. No more entertaining the adults by scaring hell out of the kids.
    My choice of careers certainly developed, solidified, and, yes, even compelled, my interest in all things natural. Late one evening, I was returning to the house from the fields on the other side of Whooping Hollow. I reined the growling monster I was riding (4 wheeler) to a halt down in the deepest part of the creek bottom. I wanted to see if the owl was in the hollow tree. I have found him there in the past and knew I had to wait a while for the scream of the 4 wheeler to evaporate into the sensual sights, sounds and smells of the natural world. I squirmed a little to take the numbness from my butt, eased my legs out to alleviate knee pain and exercised my hand to take away cramping from the thumb that had been controlling the throttle. Returning feeling went from tingling to discomfort and an increasingly common thought came forward ─ ”getting old is a pain”. This thought was quickly replaced with “...but, very few folks get to experience the sensation of being immersed in the natural world”.
    Here in the “hills and hollers’ folks cling to the old ways and, to a great extent, to the old beliefs. In the noonday; “these hills” are flattened and smoothed by the harsh, brilliant light of the sun. Even in the deep woods nothing can hide and it's easy to scoff at the idea of supernatural threats. Then comes the evening with its deep, long, dark shadows. Light comes angling through the trees onto overgrown trails that form green tunnels. Even the most pragmatic resident casts a cautious eye around when required to descend the steep bank and traverse a stream bed. In these quiet places the abundant vegetation closes in, air is much cooler and the light seems to actually retreat. But, it is tempting to stop and enjoy the cool quiet.
    When you are sitting there looking for the owl, trying to get comfortable, doing nothing, just waiting, not even really thinking ─ just looking, things are quite enjoyable. Slowly, the senses are bombarded. That sweet smell is something blooming; but, what is that pungent odor? Nice and cool down here but, what is feeling almost cold on the back of my neck. I hear the familiar “Who cooks for you, hoooo?” call of the barred owl up at the end of the hollow. Was that the screech owl that answered…...? It was close. Didn’t sound like it was coming from that hollow tree. Kinda high pitched even for a Screech Owl. Was that the grunt of a Whitetail. Sounded more like “HA!”. I peer through the peculiar flattened twigs of the winged elm at the jumbled rocks of the last runoff. Was there movement in that dark overhang? Must have been the wind ─ but, how did a breeze get in there?
    In the comfort of Sunday morning it is easy to rationalize the physical differences as cause for these areas being designated haunted. But, in the dark of Saturday evening, “hill wisdom” takes on new form and meaning. Isolated nooks and crannies do seem logical as home places for hauntings.
    Now, this may take a little bit of explanation for those of you who “aint from around here”. Ireland has their “little people”, Scandinavia has “trolls” and the hills have “haints”. But wait (bet that sounds familiar)! Here in the hills we find it valuable to categorize threats. Establish a degree of concern. In the non-temporal realm the lowest level is reserved for non-threatening things such as guardian spirits. They are comforting; but, don’t seem to have a lot of capability. A guardian spirit may be able to keep you from stubbing your toe; but, are rather helpless in other forms of protection such as warding off boogers. No! Not the kind you find when you pick your nose.
    Boogers are the mid-level threats and seem to prey mainly on the young. This is illustrated by the old as the hills expression, “if you don’t quit that - the boogyman is gonna get you”. I don’t know what they do with the ones that they “get”. No one seems to disappear.
    But Diana and I had to go to Wal-mart one morning about 2am. She was suffering an allergic reaction and we needed Benadryl.
    We saw some of the folks in there ─ both shoppers and workers. One look reminded me of a comment by my nephew Tommy Guraedy. "Aunt Diana, have you ever been to the RedX (gas station/convenience store) at 1:00 in the morning."
    "No, I don't think I have."
    "Well, there is too much inbreeding going on around here!"
    Maybe those are the ones that got “got”?
    Finally, we come to the highest, and fortunately the least populous group ── haints. The one blessing, is that they seem to be fairly confined geographically. Or maybe they just prefer not to wander too far from home. Anyway, the main offense for which they extract a penalty seems to be invasion of their territory. Especially at time periods when they are out and about. Mainly late evenings and nights; don’t seem to hang around much in the early mornings as light invades the hills. However, there is one charm that does seem to keep them at bay. Never encountered a haint while out raccoon hunting of a night. Never talked to anyone that did. Must have been the coon dogs. That baying which warms the heart of a coon hunter must be chilling to the ─ well whatever provides energy to a Haint.
    So, on to the Hoopin Holler Haint that resides up near the head of the cove. Some folks say that those rocks turned over up there are by the resident black bear looking for grubs. But, some of those boulders are kinda big. Haints have a habit of kicking things when they get upset (must have their own version of guardian spirits to prevent stubbed toes). I don’t know what size Haints come in ─ but they are certainly powerful enough to kick over big rocks. The upper reaches of the “holler” is rarely visited during the usual threat periods. Ol’ Hoopin Holler Haint, however, seems to have developed a taste for corn or at least for “squeezins”. Since the repeal of prohibition stills have disappeared from the hidden hollows and he is forced to travel a might bit.
    Fortunately, this spirit is fairly easily appeased. Now, I don’t remember the exact transgression. It must have been something fairly bad. But, a Frien’ found himself on the receiving end of the Wraith’s wrath. I think he relied on the Haint staying home and him not living close around here. Anyway no appeasement.
    It looked like Bruce got away, literally. He took off on a trip out west. Things went great until the Hoopin Holler Haint got in touch with his cousin in New Mexico, Espiritu Diablo. Haints (Spanish or hillbilly variety) instinctively know that a little action can result in big problems (they hold no truck with the law of action and equal and opposite reaction). Bruce was traveling El Real del Muerto as it used to be called. A little hole in the cooling system of a big old motorhome on the road of death is a real pain in the ─ well it sure did slow down Bruce’s western journey as the Spanish Haint did his work.
    Like me, Bruce falls into the category of “Off”. It was a relief for us to learn that this refers to a physical attribute rather than a mental condition. “Off” means being from off somewhere else. So Bruce ain’t real familiar with Haints and their operations. I tried to tell him what I had learned. How he should leave an offering in the hollow at the base of an old oak tree just out from the entrance to the place. The best offering is a bottle(1.75 liter works best) of soothing quality (at least 80 proof) such as Wild Turkey (Jack Daniels may substitute), delivered on a timely basis (monthly, although quarterly might work). I been doing this for a while now ─ so, Bruce, if you don’t find my bottle there when you leave yours, you will know for sure that this works and my liquid offering is being enjoyed.
    Back to my recent sojourn into the valley of the Haint. That old owl didn’t show. My Frien’s having been both recipient and perpetrator of “scare the hell out of the kids” evenings; and, coming from the land of voodoo ─ well, let’s just say that there are times when it seems safer to not question the possibility of things better left unexamined. Time to use the snarl of my steed as a talisman of protection. Time to allow its speed to bear me safely home. Time to offer a libation. Time to end this epistle from Paul.