Friday, May 24, 2019

Friday Ramble - Aestival

This week's word is one of my favorites, hailing from Middle English, Middle and Old French, thence the Late Latin aestīvālis and earlier Latin aestās meaning summer or summery. Both forms are cognate with the Sanskrit इन्द्धे (inddhé) meaning to light or set on fire. At the root of our wordy explorations  is the Proto-Indo-European (PIE) form h₂eydʰ- meaning heat, fire or to burn.

In the science of zoology, aestival refers to the tendency of all living creatures to be rather sleepy and slow moving in the heat of summer, and botanists use the word to describe the arrangement of organs or components in a flower bud. I once thought that the word siesta (referring to a leisurely nap after lunch) was related, but I discovered a year or two ago that its roots are in the Latin sexta meaning the sixth hour of the day (midday).  The two words sound similar, but as far as I know, they are not related.

June is only a week or so away, and this week's word is one of my favorites for the brief greening season at the heart of the calendar year. Of course, summer is a fine word too, but somehow or other, it doesn't hold a candle or even a tiny wooden match to the frothy perfumed magnificence of the golden season that reigns so briefly here in the sub-Arctic climes of Canada. Aestival says it all, and I love the shape of the word on my tongue.

After an unusually long, cold winter, things are just beginning to warm up. There are not many nectar gathering insects about, but ornamental trees in the village (almond, cherry, crabapple and mock orange) are flowering, and the air is full of fluttering petals and sweet fragrance. Beau and I stop to look at them, and it is a wonder we ever make it home. One of these fine mornings, the objects of our rapt attention will be chock full of ecstatic bees and bumbles.

I say "aestival" and its sibilance summons up images of outdoor festivals and al fresco celebrations, shaggy gardens of scarlet poppies and towering purple lupins, trees filled with singing birds, bees in the orchard, roses sweeter than any vineyard potion, perfect sunsets across the lake shared with stately herons. It's all golden, and it's all good. Here comes June in all her glory, and I am ready.


Barbara Rogers said...

So great to have blossoms galore now! Enjoy!

Kameshwari said...

I have such appreciation for the Friday Rambles that bring us to words like aestival. Just reading this post brought me into lingering mode, letting the words create images of how siesta could be related to eastival, even if it is a slight error. Or the explosions of blossoms and scents have a woman with her dog move extra slow through the city, as if to be linger.

To linger longer with the word, I did an internet chase of the word that gave the audio pronunciation. It was a treat to hear the word spoken with different pronunciations.

Here in Vancouver and over on Vancouver Island, it is clear that the windows of summer are wide open and we are feeling and freshness of aestival.

Thank you for the this hot ramble of a word.