20 February 2019
Daily Dozen Gratitude List #31
It’s been an all-the-rest month of Daily Dozen Gratitudes. Time flies when you’re counting blessings.
1. Hyphenating perhaps-random-but-now-related groups of words to turn them into an adjective.
2. Puddle reflections.
An after-the-rain compensation, when there isn’t a rainbow. There’s an Alice-Through-the-Looking-Glass component to these images, the thought flashes, if I step in, will I be stepping into a reflected, upside-down, reversed world? Or are WE in the reversed world to the one being revealed in this puddle?
3. The I-thought-they-were-sycamore-but-they’re-actually-London-plane trees lining Memorial Drive in Cambridge.
That paint-by-numbers-or-camouflage-looking bark that’s mottled off-white with beige and khaki. They are big and tall and grand, and have been for decades. The branches on either side of the road reach high and intertwine overhead, forming a canopy. These trees were planted in 1897, according to the Charles River Conservancy. Until I wrote this, I thought plane trees were just the British name for sycamores. Turns out, they’re two different plants – London plane is a hybrid of American sycamore and Oriental plane (aka Eurasian Platanus, aka Old World sycamore).
I’m not the only one who thought this – the general assumption was that they were sycamores, till a 1962 proposal to remove them in order to build three underpasses along Mem Drive (the future!) led to genealogical research, revealing the mixed parentage history. The remove-the-trees-and-put-up-a-highway plan was vehemently protested, and ultimately (and fortunately) got shelved. (Check out the artist’s rendering of the proposal with circa early 1960s cars. Eek.)
4. Oil-slick rainbows in puddles near gas stations.
I remember being captivated by them as a kid, that something seemingly dirty could yield something pretty.
5. Little Free Libraries.
The cute mini houses that hold share-and-share-alike books for the giving and taking. Once, I was in western Mass with a friend and we decided to go to a lake beach to hang out and read. But when we arrived, I realized I had forgotten to bring my book, oh no! But then, near the restrooms, was a Little Free Library, and I found a Young Adult volume to read, whew.
6. Year-spelling dates, like 2/20/19.
7. The extra-one-to-grow-on tradition of a baker’s dozen.
8. Emily Fishman’s you-could-be-there travelogue accounts of her trip to Bogota.
Evocative and expertly drawing attention to fine and often amusing details. Not a place I ever considered visiting, but now it’s on my list. Thank you EmFish!
9. Young Adult books.
Meant-for-teens-perhaps-but-I-like-it-too fiction. I tend to have multiple books going on, a more challenging read and an easier read, and YA books usually fit the latter. Favorite authors include M.E. Kerr (to whom I wrote a fan letter, and she responded by sending me one of her early non YA books); E.L. Konigsburg; Ellen Wittlinger; Cynthia Voigt, Neal Shusterman. Lots more, but those authors are the first that come to mind.
10. The canine-attracting ambiance of Eitan’s Park.
Seems every third time I go by, there’s someone hanging with their dog, enjoying and exploring the space. Makes me happy, because Eitan loved dogs, and we never had one.
That spoon-fork or sometimes spoon-fork-knife utensil that’s more and less than the sum of its parts. Not really as good as three separate utensils, but still, pretty cool and handy to have as just one. Like reversible clothing. And they’ve been around since 1874, in some variation, with the word appearing in dictionaries in 1909. I learned that there are all kinds of portmanteaux for these utensil mashups, like the Australian splayd (sometimes called a sporf).
They’re like micro libraries, when you go looking for a particular book, but then start browsing all the books around it and then discover new-to-you authors, except with words. My friend Amy Young, a poet, uses dictionary entries as a prompt for poems, and is gradually working her way through the alphabet. Someone gave me a you’ll-find-this-your-most-useful-gift Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary for my bat mitzvah, commenting in the card that it had been so for her daughter, and it turned out to be true. I used it through high school, college, beyond. I sort of forgot about the appeal of looking up one word, then scanning the rest of the page, checking out other words I hadn’t known, interesting etymologies. Usually I just google a word these days – easier, but it limits the discovery of nearby words. Time to pull out that old Webster’s.