Friday, July 01, 2011

Friday Ramble - Aestival

The word aestival comes to us from  the French word of the same spelling and the Late Latin aestīvālis, both originating  in the earlier Latin form aestās meaning summer or summery.  The verb form  aestivate means to spend the summer in a specific place (at the cottage perhaps) or engaged in a specific activity.

In the science of zoology, aestival refers to the tendency of living creatures to be somewhat drowsy and slow moving in the heat of a summer day.  Botanists use the word to describe the arrangement of organs or components in a flower bud. Once upon a time, I thought that the word siesta (referring to a nap after lunch) was related, but discovered a while ago that siesta comes from the Latin sexta meaning the sixth hour of daylight.  The words sound similar, but  they are not kindred spirits as far as I know.  Nor is the word festival related, although it too sounds as if it should be kin.

Aestival is one of my favorite words for the bright and flowering weeks in the middle of the calendar year.  Summer is a good word, but it can't hold a candle or even a match to the frothy magnificence of the golden season which reigns so briefly here in the north.

I say "aestival" and its sibilance conjures up images of festivals and celebrations, gardens in madcap blooming, trees full of singing birds, roses sweeter than any vineyard potion and perfect sunsets across the lake shared with herons,  At the end of day perhaps, there are fizzy potions with little paper umbrellas in them, vegetable skewers on the grill and homemade sherbet made with the first strawberries of the season.

Looking out this morning, I can see the tall spires of day lilies through my study window.  It is still early here, and all the blooms are folded up like rolled umbrellas, but in an hour they will be open and the undistilled essence of summer.  It's all golden, and it's all good.

Happy July everyone, and if you live in Canada as I do, Happy Canada Day.


One Woman's Journey - a journal being written from Woodhaven - her cottage in the woods. said...

I love day lillies
and the end of your day
sounds delightful

Rowan said...

Interesting about the word aestival - I have a plant called leucojum aestivum and I know its common name is summer snowflake but I'd never put two and two together in spite of having done 5 years of Latin in my long ago schooldays! Hope you had a great Canada Day.

Anonymous said...

Gorgeous colour and terrific word.