Friday, May 22, 2020

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. Botanists use the word to describe the arrangement of organs or components in a flower bud. I used to think 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 northern 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 beginning to warm up. There are not many nectar gathering insects about yet, 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 herons. It's all golden, and it's all good. Here comes June in all her glory, and I am ready.

1 comment:

Barbara R. said...

So glad to see your beautiful posies and hear about aestival. Enjoy the season, immerse yourselves in it!