Friday, November 06, 2015

Friday Ramble - Frost

This week's word seems to have been around forever, coming down to us from Middle and Old English forms meaning "freezing, becoming frozen or extreme cold". The present noun form is cognate with Old Saxon, High German and Norse words claiming the same ancestral roots.  Then there are the Proto Germanic frusta and Old High German vorst, both related to the old verb freosan meaning "to freeze". Somewhere back there are Old Saxon, Frisian and Dutch kindred, and at the root of it all, the PIE (Proto-Indo-European language) preus which seems to have described processes of both freezing and burning. Huh???

PIE has been around since at least 4500 BCE, but the late Neolithic ancestors who spoke it left no written records. When I excavate a ramble word, remove its old and middle European trappings and discover a PIE root, I am wrapped anew in reverence for words and language, for those who came before us and the commonalities of earthly existence right back to the beginning times.

A fine day is coming into being beyond the windows, skies in vibrant shades of lavender, purple and gold with planets Venus, Mars and Jupiter almost directly overhead.  The sun has yet to rise, but geese are already flying up from the river and out to stubbly farm fields to feed. The air is filled with their songs and exuberance on this brisk morning in early November. There is frost on trees, cobblestones and roof tiles in the village; puddles and fallen leaves in the streets are outlined in ice. The Virginia creeper vines in our local hedgerows seem undeterred by the night's plummeting temperatures, but they look as though their insouciance and jaunty stance is darned hard work.

The rose leaves in our garden are clad in frost this morning too, the crystals clearly defined and sparkling.  Blue sky and silvery frost, russet and gold rose leaves dancing in the wind - who says there is no color about in late autumn and early winter?  One has only to look, and the best time for looking is just as the sun is coming up over the trees.

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