Friday, October 08, 2021

Friday Ramble - Edgy

This week's word has been around since the eleventh century, making its way down to us through the Middle English egge, the Old English ecg, the Old French aiglent and the Old Germanic ecke, all meaning "corner". It is also related to the Latin acer meaning "sharp", and the Greek akmē meaning "point". At the root of it all is the Proto-Indo-European (PIE) ak- meaning "sharp". Kindred words in the English language include acerbic, acid, acrid, acumen, acupuncture, acute, eager, ester, exacerbate, hammer and selvedge as well as eglantine (or sweetbriar), an old world rose known for its thorns.

An edgy time is this, for the old Celtic year is passing away, and we stand on the threshold of a brand new year, in the north a chilling contraption of fallen leaves and freezing earth, short days, darkness, frost and wind.

The eastern Ontario highlands always seem empty at this time of the year and rather lonesome. Except for Canada geese and a few intrepid herons, migratory birds have departed for warmer climes, and our favorite lake seems still and empty. Most of our wild forest kin are already hibernating or are thinking about doing it.

On rambles in the woods, the long shadows falling across our trail have edges as sharp as the finest examples of the blade smith's craft. The earth under our boots is firm, leaves are crunchy; puddles along our way are sometimes rimed with ice. For all the emptiness after birds migrate and woodland creatures drift into hibernation, frost and morning sunlight change our native place into something rich and elegant and inviting: glittering weed fronds artfully curved and waving in the fields, milkweed sculpted into arty  shapes, trees twinkling like stars, the edges of blackberry leaves rosy and sparkling with dew or frost crystals. The air is fragrant with cedar, spruce and pine.

These weeks always seem chthonic to me. That engaging word with its bewildering arrangement of vowels and consonants springs from the Greek khthonios, meaning "of the earth", and it is usually employed in describing subterranean matters and deities of the underworld. In using the word to describe something, we focus on what is deeper or within, rather than that which is apparent at first glance or merely resting on the surface. Implicit in the adjective are notions of rest, sleep, fertility and rebirth - mortality and abundance coexisting and enfolding each other in a deep embrace.

1 comment:

Dee said...

Truly, it is an edgy time of year and you have described it beautifully. Thank you