"The time to repair a leaky roof is when the sun is shining" (FDR, not JFK)

Charles Doyle cdoyle at UGA.EDU
Sun Apr 9 14:37:24 UTC 2006

Wolfgang Mieder's Dictionary of American Proverbs (1992:
515) gives "Thatch your roof before rainy weather; dig your
well before your are thirsty" as a sort of fused double-
proverb, from Illinois.  It is also in Frances Barbour's
Proverbs and Proverbial Phrases of Illinois (1965: 154).
Both of those collections are based the data from the
venerable ADS proverb-collecting project (long supervised by
Margaret Bryant).

Both Meider and Barbour cite Burton Stevenson's Home Book of
Proverbs [etc.] (1948: 866), which gives as a Chinese
proverb "Thatch your roof before the rain begins" and, from
the Latin of Mencious (c300 B.C.), "Dig your well before you
are thirsty"-- along with English analogs (from the 17th and
18th centuries) about procuring a cloak before the rain
starts falling.

Assuming that all those sayings are employed (for the most
part) metaphorically, we could compare not only numerous
other sayings about the formic prudence of foresight but
also "carpe diem" sayings like "Make hay while the sun

I am also reminded of a short joke--it's been in oral
circulation for a few decades--about a rustic (maybe an
Aggie) who remarks that when it's raining, he can't fix the
leaks in the roof of his house, and when it's not raining,
they don't NEED fixing.


The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

More information about the Ads-l mailing list