“Whistling and Whittling”

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I have been reflecting on skills I really wanted to master as a young girl. Two in particular, whistling and whittling come to mine. I had already learned how to snap my fingers which had taken quite a while. I had figured out how to wink, closing one eye while leaving the other open. I failed to wiggle my ears, a trick one family friend demonstrated. I did have the ability to curl my tongue and flip it over, but later learned this was genetic and not a real achievement on my part.

Whistling confounded me. It looked easy enough. I was just supposed to pucker my lips and blow. (Imagine my delight when I heard a similar line by Lauren Bacall in “To Have and Have Not” though  that had a whole different edge to it!) I could not make a sound come out for the life of me. I must have spent weeks trying and failing to whistle. Then finally one day the sound I had been aiming for, the sound that would bring our dog running, came out of my mouth. Success at last. Then of course my friend challenged me to make a piercing whistle with my two fingers. I never did master that and remain impressed any time some one gets everyone’s attention with that feat.

I got a pocket knife when I was eight to take to camp. It looked very similar to the one pictured above. Although I had no need of a knife, I was very pleased to own one. Of course I had to find something to do with the new possession, so I learned to whittle. Whittling really only requires a stick and remembering to push the blade away from you. I really enjoyed watching little shavings pile up on the ground. A pointless skill since I wasn’t going to use a sharpened stick for anything. But I was pretty proud to have acquired a new talent.

14 thoughts on ““Whistling and Whittling”

  1. With that pointed stick, you could have roasted all sorts of things over the campfire! Maybe over the holiday you can invite the young ones over for a cookout using freshly whittled sticks.

    I never mastered regular whistling, but I did learn to make a whistle using a blade of grass and to imitate a train whistle by folding my hands properly and blowing against my bent thumbs.

    1. I love it. I think I was always aware of my mother repeating “watch out. You’ll put someone’s eye out with that.” One summer I could do that with grass too. Not after that one summer.

  2. I could do ordinary whistling but never the high powered type with the fingers. I like to whistle songs myself but find I get annoyed when others do! Go figure! 😉 I remember having pocket knives which came in handy for fishing if not for whittling. My husband loves the Swiss Army knife and got me a tiny one with scissors, tweezers and a toothpick which came in very handy. 🙂

    1. MY husband is so used to carrying his pocket knife that when we went through security for the Statue of Liberty he forgot he had it on him. Fortunately the security man held it for him until we got back. I guess he didn’t look terrorizing!

  3. I still can’t whistle out wards but sucking air inwards I can 😀 nor can I finger whistle…I did finally get the clicking of the fingers right though 😉
    But I’m double jointed or hyper jointed as its called today, so I can lay on my tummy & lean backwards to touch my head with the tips of my toes!
    Although at this age I’m a little wary of doing that! I can still bend over & touch my toes though 😀
    Bless you,
    Jennifer

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