Friday, March 10, 2023

Friday Ramble - Melt

This week's word has been around since before 900, coming to us through the Middle English melten, Old English meltan, mealt and gemæltan all meaning to liquify and (or) digest. It is cognate with the Old Norse melta and Greek méldein meaning the same thing, then the Proto Germanic meltanan and West Saxon gemyltan meaning "to make liquid". At the end of our wordy explorations is the Proto Indo-European (PIE) root meld meaning "softness" or "to render soft". The study of word origins is a fine thing.

Strange as it may seem, the word malt is also kin to this week’s ramble offering. In the malting process, barley is soaked, softened and drained to release enzymes used in brewing beer, and the result is called malt (or wort). The curious relation between melt and malt can be explained simply by the fact that both involve softening. On the other hand, the verb meld "to dissolve, blend or mingle" originates in the Old High German melden, "to announce" and the Old English meldian, "to make known", and it is not kin. The term is used mainly in card games, particularly canasta.

In recent days, we have watched hopefully as icicles dangling from the eaves of the little blue house in the village melted away, little by little, jewel by glittering jewel. We grow some fabulous icicles up here, and a favorite springtime exercise is wandering about with the camera and photographing them as they dwindle at their lofty moorings, become skinny and then disappear into the earth, drop by shining drop.

In the icy wands dangling over my head and suspended in the melting streams below my restless feet are worlds great and small and too numerous to imagine. The world around us and its multitudes of microscopic universes are complete within themselves and teeming with life, science and enchantment, all wrapped up together and happy with the arrangement.

Sometimes melting ice holds the doddering photographer and her camera. At other times, it is filled with sky, clouds, bare trees and tiny sprigs of emerging green, all expressions of this incandescently changing season. The Old Wild Mother (Earth)'s creations are finer "stuff" than I shall ever be able to dream up. I just wander around and chronicle her doings with lens and notebook.