One of my early literary successes was at the age of twelve or thirteen, maybe fourteen. I apologise for not remembering the exact age – it was a very long time ago and I was surely a different person then.
(On a side note and apropos of nothing more than a wandering mind, if it’s true every cell in our bodies is replaced over a seven year cycle and given the fact that our personalities change so much from birth to death, isn’t it legitimate to claim that we are ACTUALLY different people from the ones we were in our youth? Shouldn’t we adapt the way we run our lives to reflect this, perhaps changing our names as we leave different life phases. When I was a teen was definitely a Tracey or a Sharon – now I see myself more as a Sarah. I have never – ever – been a ‘Lynn’)
Anyway, where was I?
Ah, yes. My life as a poet prodigy.
One English class near the start of the school year, we were all asked to write a poem about the new season. I don’t remember much about my creative process, but I do know that each stanza ended with the repeated phrase:
‘Signs of Autumn,’
after a suitably vivid description of one of the ‘signs’. You can imagine the kind of thing…
‘Kicking golden leaves I choose
To scrape dog muck from my shoes.
Signs of Autumn.’
I’m sure you’ll agree, I have a natural talent for the poetical.
One unforeseen consequence of my burgeoning skill with words was that the English teacher was so impressed, he pasted a typed copy of my silky prose onto a piece of card and insisted I read it out in front of the entire school.
I remember during a rehearsal of the reading, I was disciplined for entertaining friends with my hilarious ‘I’m sooooo bored’ face. I was probably embarrassed at being caught making an effort. Not cool. In fact, it would take another ten years for me to realise working hard was cool. (And I still can’t shake the belief that the word ‘cool’ is cool.)
So, in honour of my first public reading and because today is the official first day of the new season, today’s Wednesday Word Tangle word is
It’s a funny one, this. From what I can find through a quick skim of the net, there’s disagreement over the derivation of the word and it’s a pretty new concept altogether.
The Anglo Saxons marked the passage of time by Winters – a word meaning ‘wet’ with roots dating back 5,000 years. During much of the Medieval period, the year was split into Winter and the Germanic sumer from the word for ‘half’.
When the transitional seasons were finally recognised, Spring was lenten (covering the Christian festival of Lent) and Autumn was harvest (covering … well, harvest time). The word Autumn didn’t catch hold until the 18th century, making it a toddler in linguistic terms.
It’s fall in American English, of course, ruduo in Lithuanian (from rudas meaning ‘reddish’) but my favourite is the Old Irish fogamar, meaning ‘under-Winter’.
Now, that’s poetry.
Any feelings on the onset of Autumn? Are you a different person now from in the Spring of your youth?
Thanks to Kat, the founder of W4W