The Tale of Boojum and Hootin’ Annie
Appalachian Mountains Folk Tale
An Excerpt From Wake-Robin Ridge Book 4 (Coming this Fall)
Thank you, Miz Sue, for lettin’ me come by today, and meet your friends.
My name’s Rabbit*. Well, that ain’t my real name, of course, but it’s what I been called near-bout all my life. (I’m eleven, now.) This here’s a story my gran told me ‘bout Boojum and Hootin’ Annie. My mama’s a writer, an’ she wrote it down ‘zactly the way I told it to her an’ my daddy last Halloween, an’ this here’s what she wrote:
“Who’s that supposed to be, Rabbit?”
Rabbit’s mouth dropped open, and he gaped at Mac, pumpkin carving forgotten in his amazement.
“You ain’t heard ‘bout Boojum?”
Mac shook his head.
“Nor Hootin’ Annie, neither?”
Another shake of the head from Mac.
“But you been comin’ to these here mountains since you was younger’n me!”
“I sure have, and I’ve learned a lot of things, but Boojum and . . .?”
“. . . and Hootin’ Annie are not among the many things I’ve heard about.”
“Then I reckon I better get busy an’ fill you in on the story, the way my gran told it to me.” He gave Mac his most impish grin. “Can’t have me knowin’ more’n you do, can we?”
Watching Mac with our adopted son, Rabbit, was always a treat. The two of them had bonded more closely than I had ever dared to hope, and their relationship grew stronger every day. I requested a short delay while I put the baby down for the night, then rejoined my men.
“Now then, Rabbit. What’s all this about Boojum and Hootin’ Annie?”
Rabbit’s eyes danced. “Oka-aay, Mama. I’m gonna tell you, but I better not be gettin’ into no trouble ’bout this. Boojum weren’t . . . wasn’t . . . always so nice all the time. Leastways, not before he met Annie. Just don’t blame me none for what he used to do.”
We promised we’d never hold Rabbit responsible for anyone else’s behavior, so without further ado, he slid off his stool and paced around the kitchen, excited to be the one telling us something new, instead of the other way around.
“Well, now. This is what my gran told me. I got no way of knowin’ how much is true, but my gran knew lots of stuff ‘bout these here mountains, an’ this here’s what she said.” He cleared his throat, enjoying the drama. “There was once this man named Boojum. Or maybe he wasn’t really no man at all. Folks who seen him used to say he looked more like half man, half bear, on account of he was so hairy, an’ wild lookin’. Gran said some people thought he looked more like a giant raccoon. Me, I always figgered those folks mighta been hittin’ the moonshine a bit. But whether he was really a man or somethin’ else altogether, everybody who seen Boojum agreed that he was hairy—an’ scary. An’ mostly, everybody ran away when they seen him, too.
“Now, the only thing people ever found out about Boojum was that he liked two things more’n anything else in the world. Sparkly jewels, like rubies an’ such, and spyin’ on pretty women when they were skinny-dippin’ or bathin’.”
Rabbit paused, eyes on me as he waited for my reaction.
“Um, did Boojum do anything other than spy?” I asked.
Rabbit shook his head. “Ain’t nobody ever said nothin’ about him doin’ more than that. Least, Gran never said so, an’ she probably wouldn’t have told me about Boojum at all, if she’d thought he’d done anything too awful bad.”
“Okay, then let’s hear the rest.”
He grinned, gesturing in excitement as he proceeded with his tale. “Okay, so Boojum, he had him a cave somewhere, filled with rubies, an’ jewels, an’ maybe even gold, only nobody ever found out where it was. Gran said lots of people tried, but ain’t nobody found it to this very day. Only time anyone ever spotted him was when they looked up an’ seen him peekin’ through the bushes at different ladies, like I told you. But then one day, Boojum come upon Annie, bathin’ in a stream, and you’ll never guess what happened.”
By now, Rabbit was all but ricocheting off the kitchen cabinets, and his delighted excitement was contagious.
“I’ll bite,” Mac said. “What happened, Rabbit?”
“Boojum went an’ fell in love, that’s what happened!”
His enthusiasm for this tale had pulled me in. “What? This wild, hairy man fell in love?”
“He did, Mama! He took one look at Hootin’ Annie, and that was it for ol’ Boojum. But this here’s the funnest part. Annie fell in love with him right back! Can you believe that? An’ the two of them run off together, and no one never did see them again.”
“Aw, that’s kind of sad isn’t it? I mean to never know what happened to them.”
Mac raised an eyebrow in my direction, then turned to Rabbit. “I agree with your Mama. So poor Boojum and Hootin’ Annie just disappeared, then? Lost and gone?”
“Oh, no. Nobody saw ‘em no more, but they knew they were out there, on account of they heard ‘em all the time. That there’s why she’s called Hootin’ Annie.”
I must have looked completely lost by then, because Rabbit sat down beside me, and explained. “See, right after they disappeared, all this hootin’ and hollerin’ commenced comin’ from the woods, at all kinda weird hours of the day an’ night. Didn’t take long before folks figgered out it was Annie, hootin’ at Boojum to get hisself home for dinner, an’ quit admirin’ all his rubies and diamonds in his secret cave. Gran said the hootin’ went on for years an’ years, and then one day, it stopped, real sudden-like, and they knew Hootin’ Annie wasn’t out there no more. An’ since they never again spotted no hairy ol’ man lookin’ at pretty women, they knew Boojum was gone, too.”
Mac’s eyebrows drew together as he digested that, and Rabbit leaned across to pat him on the arm. “Don’t be sad, Daddy. Ain’t nobody lives forever, an’ if the stories are true, Boojum an’ Hootin’ Annie had a real good time together for the rest of their lives.”
“That’s a good way to look at it. And thanks to those wonderful talks you had with your gran, I’ve learned about a story I never heard before.”
“It’s a pretty good ol’ tale, ain’t it?”
Mac tousled Rabbit’s hair. “It is, indeed, and you told it well, too. Now, I believe we’ve got some pumpkins to finish carving.”
*Rabbit is a character in Marcia’s Wake Robin Ridge series
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About the author
Marcia Meara lives in central Florida, just north of Orlando, with her husband of over thirty years, two big cats, and two small dachshunds. When not writing or blogging, she spends her time gardening, and enjoying the surprising amount of wildlife that manages to make a home in her suburban yard. At the age of five, Marcia declared she wanted to be an author, and is ecstatic that at age 69, she finally began pursuing that dream. Three and a half years and six novels later, she’s still going strong, and plans to keep on writing until she falls face down on the keyboard, which she figures would be a pretty good way to go!
Marcia Meara’s books are available via Amazon in print and for Kindle
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Marcia Meara, author of Swamp Ghosts and Finding Hunter, has set Book One of her Wake-Robin Ridge series amid the haunting beauty of the North Carolina mountains, where ghosts walk, ancient legends abound, and things still go bump in the night.
“A PHONE RINGING AT 2:00 A.M. never means anything good. Calls at 2:00 A.M. are bad news. Someone has died. Someone is hurt. Or someone needs help.”
On a bitter cold January night in 1965, death came calling at an isolated little cabin on Wake-Robin Ridge. Now, nearly 50 years later, librarian Sarah Gray has quit her job and moved into the same cabin, hoping the peace and quiet of her woodland retreat will allow her to concentrate on writing her first novel. Instead she finds herself distracted by her only neighbor, the enigmatic and reclusive MacKenzie Cole, who lives on top of the mountain with his Irish wolfhound as his sole companion.
As their tentative friendship grows, Sarah learns the truth about the heartbreaking secret causing Mac to hide from the world. But before the two can sort out their feelings for each other, they find themselves plunged into a night of terror neither could have anticipated. Now they must unravel the horrifying events of a murder committed decades earlier. In doing so, they discover that the only thing stronger than a hatred that will not die is a heart willing to sacrifice everything for another.
“Evil’s comin’, boy…comin’ fast. Look for the man with eyes like winter skies, and hair like a crow’s wing. He’s the one you gotta find.”
The remote mountain wilderness of North Carolina swallowed up the ten-year-old boy as he made his way down from the primitive camp where his grandparents had kept him hidden all his life. His dying grandmother, gifted with the Sight, set him on a quest to find the Good People, and though he is filled with fear and wary of civilization, Rabbit is determined to keep his promise to her. When he crosses paths with Sarah and MacKenzie Cole, neither their lives nor his, are ever the same again.
The extraordinary little boy called Rabbit has the power light up the darkness, and the resourcefulness to save himself from the one person his grandparents had hoped would never find him. His dangerous and bittersweet journey will touch you in unexpected ways, and once you’ve let Rabbit into your heart, you’ll never forget him.
“. . . he felt the wet slide of the dog’s burning hot tongue on his face, and the scrape of its razor sharp teeth against the top of his head. A white-hot agony of crushing pain followed, as the jaws began to close.”
The wine-red trillium that carpets the forests of the North Carolina Mountains is considered a welcome harbinger of spring—but not all such omens are happy ones. An Appalachian legend claims the Black Dog, or Ol’ Shuck, as he’s often called, is a harbinger of death. If you see him, you or someone you know is going to die.
But what happens when Ol’ Shuck starts coming for you in your dreams? Nightmares of epic proportions haunt the deacon of the Light of Grace Baptist Church, and bring terror into the lives of everyone around him. Even MacKenzie Cole and his adopted son, Rabbit, find themselves pulled into danger.
When Sheriff Raleigh Wardell asks Mac and Rabbit to help him solve a twenty-year-old cold case, Rabbit’s visions of a little girl lost set them on a path that soon collides with that of a desperate man being slowly driven mad by guilt.
As Rabbit’s gift of the Sight grows ever more powerful, his commitment to those who seek justice grows as well, even when their pleas come from beyond the grave.
Marcia Meara, author of the popular Wake-Robin Ridge books, sets her second series in the sleepy little town of Riverbend, Florida, where the hungry creatures swimming in the dark waters of the St. Johns River aren’t nearly as dangerous as those walking along the quiet neighborhood streets.
Wildlife photographer Gunnar Wolfe looked like the kind of guy every man wanted to be and every woman just plain wanted, and the St. Johns River of central Florida drew him like a magnet. EcoTour boat owner Maggie Devlin knew all the river’s secrets, including the deadliest ones found in the swamps. But neither Maggie nor Gunn was prepared for the danger that would come after them on two legs.
On a quest to make history photographing the rarest birds of them all, Gunnar hires the fiery, no-nonsense Maggie to canoe him into the most remote wetland areas in the state. He was unprepared for how much he would enjoy both the trips and Maggie’s company. He soon realizes he wants more than she’s able to give, but before he can win her over, they make a grisly discovery that changes everything, and turns the quiet little town of Riverbend upside down. A serial killer is on the prowl among them.
Before, I never thought about taking a life. Not once.
Now, the thought fills my mind day and night, and
I wonder how I’ll hide that terrible need,
As an old car swings to the shoulder,
~ Traveling Man ~
Hunter Painter’s darkest fears have shaped his offbeat personality since he was a child, crippling him in ways invisible to those unable to see past his quiet exterior. In a sleepy Florida town known for its eccentric inhabitants, he’s always been a mystery to most.
Only one person sees beyond Hunter’s quirky facade. Willow Greene, the new age herbalist who owns the local candle and potpourri shop, has secretly loved him since they were in high school. When, sixteen years later, she discovers Hunter has loved her just as long, Willow hopes her dreams are finally coming true.
Willow soon learns that Hunter fears happiness at her side isn’t in the cards for him. With her natural optimism and courage, she almost convinces him he’s wrong—that they can really have that life together they both long for—but even Willow can’t stop what Hunter knows is coming.
One by one, his worst nightmares become reality, culminating in an unthinkable tragedy, which devastates everyone it touches. Willow’s battle begins in earnest as Hunter is plunged into a bleak, guilt-ridden despair, threatening to destroy not only their love, but Hunter, himself.
Finding Hunter is the story of a lost man’s desperate struggle to make his way home again, and one woman’s unshakeable faith in him and the power of their love.
“There are dark places in every heart, in every head. Some you turn away from. Some you light a candle within. But there is one place so black, it consumes all light. It will pull you in and swallow you whole. You don’t leave your brother stranded in that darkest place.”
The new year is a chance for new beginnings—usually hopeful, positive ones. But when Jackson Painter plows his car into a tree shortly after midnight on January 1, his new beginnings are tragic. His brothers, Forrest and Hunter, take up a grim bedside vigil at the hospital, waiting for Jackson to regain consciousness and anxious over how he’ll take the news that he’s lost a leg and his fiancée is dead. After all, the accident was all his fault.
As the shocking truth emerges, one thing becomes obvious—Jackson will need unconditional love and support from both of his brothers if he is to survive.
Just as he begins the long road to recovery, danger, in the form of a sinister, unsigned note, plunges him back into bleak despair. Scrawled in blood red letters, the accusation—and the threat—is clear. “MURDERER!”
Will the long, harrowing ordeal that lies ahead draw the Painter brothers closer together, or drive them apart forever?
Suspenseful and often heartbreaking, this small-town tale is a testimonial to the redemptive power of love and paints a story filled with humor, romance, and fierce family loyalty.
An angel’s work is never done—that’s part of the gig. But angels hadn’t been created to deal with such a vastly over-populated planet, rife with misery, suffering, and general chaos. Helping souls in peril has become a nearly impossible job, and even angelic tempers are frayed.
The archangel Azrael has had enough. He believes he’s found a way to ease their burden while saving jeopardized humans, too—hired help.
When Jake Daughtry lost his life rescuing a total stranger from certain death, he was on the fast track to Heaven. But that was before Azrael pulled him right out of line at the Pearly Gates. Now, as an Emissary to the Angels, Jake is taking to the highway in a quest to help souls in trouble. But the innate stubbornness of human beings bent on self-destruction is a challenge unlike any he’s ever faced.
It’s up to Jake and Azrael to bridge the gap between humans and angels. Will they ever convince the Council of Angels this endeavor is worthwhile? Can Jake figure out how to play by Azrael’s complicated rules? Will Azrael ever master the use of contractions in general conversation?
To find out the answers, hop on board Jake’s big red-and-white semi and travel the roads from the Florida Keys to north Georgia on an adventure that will make you laugh hard and cry even harder.
Summer Magic: Poems of Life & Love is a collection of contemporary poetry about exactly that–life and love. The first part of the book features poems about the magic a young boy discovers while camping in the Blue Ridge Mountains. The second part of the book has a sampling of poetry about love, life and death, autumn, and dreams coming true.
How did your granny predict the weather? What did your great uncle Albert tell you about the little green men he saw in the woods that night? What strange creature stalks the woods in your area?
So many of these old stories are slipping away for want of being recorded. legendary creatures, odd bits of folklore, folk remedies and charms, and all the old stories that brought our landscape to life…
Tell me a story, share memories of the old ways that are being forgotten, share the folklore of your home. I am not looking for fiction with this feature, but for genuine bits of folklore, old wives tales, folk magic and local legends. Why not share what you know and preserve it for the future?
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and put ‘Living Lore’ in the subject line. All I need is your article, bio and links, along with any of your own images you would like me to include and I’ll do the rest.