John Henry and the honeysuckle

So when John Henry retired from driving steel he moped around the house and he moped around the yard until Polly Ann shouted, “John Henry, why don’t you quit your moping around like a soggy pie and dig me a garden!” So John Henry picked up his shovel and he picked up his mattock and he started digging. But there was honeysuckle growing all over the fence, all up one side and down the other, and those vines ran underneath the ground from here to there and back again. John Henry dug from one end of the yard to the other, but everywhere he put his shovel, the honeysuckle vine reached up and snagged it. That honeysuckle snagged his shovel, it snagged its mattock, it even snagged John Henry’s foot. Ol’ John Henry put down his shovel and said, “Lord, that honeysuckle’s gonna be the death of me!”

John Henry grabbed one end of that vine and started pulling, and up came that vine, and up it came all across the yard. But that honeysuckle vine was longer’n his yard, so he kept on pulling that vine and reeling it in and it kept on coming up out of the dirt, all through the neighbor’s yard and the next one and the next one after that. John Henry started walking and pulling and reeling, leaving a tangle of honeysuckle vine behind him. He walked all across the state, and all across the next one, pulling up that honeysuckle vine all the way. He walked all the way back east, all the way to the Carolinas, all the way to the Atlantic Ocean. John Henry walked so long and worked so hard that when he finally got to the end of that vine he was plumb tired out, and that last tangle of vine snagged his leg and tripped him. And John Henry fell down, all stretched out along the coast, with his head up by Virginia and his feet down by Cape Fear, and became the Outer Banks.

Back home Polly Ann finished digging that garden, and by July she had the loveliest stand of sunflowers you ever saw. But wouldn’t you know, John Henry missed a little bit of honeysuckle. And so every day Polly Ann picks up John Henry’s shovel and digs up that vine a little more. And she is still digging it up today.