Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Words for a November Day

We woke to a dreary, grey day after a night of gusty rain.
Pebbles, her coat dark with wet, waits in the end of the barn which has been designated as her shelter.

I squelched over sodden ground to the pear tree to collect treats for Pebbles.
Although I carried the camera in my jacket pocket the chilly drizzle meant spatters on the camera lens.

The old tobacco barn hunkers down in the misty and somber landscape.

The barn kittens are often in the carport by the time I enter the kitchen in the morning.
When I go out with their food they scamper up the path to the barn
dashing between Pebbles hooves, rushing back to make sure I really have their morning treats.
Today there was no sign of them until I was almost at the barn.
They appeared out of the dimness and waited, dry-footed, for me to arrange their dishes
and serve breakfast.

I waded through sopping grass toward the ancient  pear tree.
Stripped of its spring beauty of blossoms, with the summer gloss of green leaves rusted, and the bushels of golden fruit gathered in or abandoned to the wasps and small rodents, the tree shows its age.
On the left side are gaps where branches have broken in other years, on the right over-burdened limbs bow toward the ground.

Pears still lie in golden, softening heaps,
blotches of color in a day of somber, rain-dulled landscape.

A few pears still cling to the branches, out-of-reach
among the weathered foliage.

Skies are ashen, skeleton tree trunks are black with moisture.

Boundary line of the back field. The wood is shadowy, the light within crepuscular at mid-morning.

Only the areas of greenest grass seem alive in the rain-drenched gloom.
The garden is quiet, with no movement of foraging bird or vanished butterfly to recall the abundance
of earlier weeks.
Overhead a hawk sails the lowering sky, its voice sharply plaintive.

Pivoting full circle all I can see are leaden skies, dripping branches, frost-bleached pastures.

At lunch time a brassy sun broke free of the cloud overhang and
briefly relieved the gloom.

Cloud masses rampaged across a brilliant backdrop of blue, driven by a wuthering wind that clashed through bare branches.

Pebbles strides along the garden fence her coat rough-dried in the sharp wind.
Behind her to the north gunmetal clouds seeth.

Bathed momentarily in the harsh light, the pear tree appears greener, less haggard.

The sweet gum tree just beyond the carport flaunts a few coppery leaves.
Behind it the maple is a silver-etched silhouette.
Within moments the sun had vanished.
The afternoon dissolved into surly shadows.
Inside the house I listened to the moaning and keening of the wind, the occasional clatter of
objects knocked helter-skelter on the porch and in the car port.
The cats were twitchy, seeking warm dark corners, curling into circular mounds, noses tucked into paws, tails wrapped protectively over furry faces, shutting out the uncertainties of the weather.
Dusk came early.
J. who is responsible for milking Dory the Cow while the Yoders are away on a family visit,
declared that he had better go while he could still see.
He came back in the dark, stating that he was thankful for the windbreak of the small shed that Joseph constructed to shelter cow and milker in nasty weather.
The milk has been strained and put away to cool, except a bowlful taken to the barn kittens.
We have made stacks of toast and for me, a large mug of tea.
Both the big stove in the basement and the fireplace have been stuffed with wood.
Outside the harbingers of winter prevail in wind-driven rain
and falling temperatures.
The old barn provides hay-heaped nests for the kittens
and Pebbles can retreat to the dark shelter of the lean-to--if she will.

I have doubtless be-labored the exercise of finding colorful words for this day of wildly unsettled weather.
Stomping about this morning in my tall rubber boots, with wisps of mist-dampened hair straggling from under one of J.'s caps, I thought how cliched our descriptive terms become, perhaps because their very familiarity calls up the representative mental image.
Sodden: the sound of the word is heavy with wet and chill, a drenched garment cast off in distaste.
Dreary, dour, lowering:  I can see the greyness, feel it even--enfolding, dispiriting, compressing one into a small cold space.
Wuthering, gusting, howling: the wind has many voices, conjuring up old tales and ancient superstitions as it ushers in a storm.

How do you describe the weather in your corner of the world?


  1. Cold grey weather here is 'dreich' with the soft Scots 'ch' of 'loch'

    A cold wind is a 'snell' wind, less cold is a 'chittering wind' because it makes your teeth 'chitter' or sometimes a 'snippin'{snapping} wind . A strong wind is a 'fell' wind, gusty winds are 'bleester'.

    The lightest of rain is a 'smirr' and heavy rain comes 'dinkin' down and if you get caught in it you'll get 'drookit' {drowned} wet.

    A brief spring storm is a 'gowk-storm' as it comes with the 'gowks' or cuckoo's

    mist is 'haar'

    a heavy covering of 'snay' or 'snaw' {snow} is a 'smoor' {literally a smothering}
    A swirl of snow is a 'pirl'and an icicle is a 'shuchle' - again with a soft ch.

    Disagreeable, unsettled weather is 'thrawn'.

    Cold, damp weather is 'wersh'

    when rain makes rivers overflow they are is 'spate' - sometimes also used to describe a quick hard downpour although more common is 'teeming' with rain.

    A partial rainbow is a 'watergow'.

    A peal of 'thunner' {thunder} is a 'brattle'

    A halo round the moon is a 'cocks-eye' although can also be a 'broch' moon. A slim crescent of the moon is a 'scliff' of a moon.

    Boy - you'e had me thinking this morning. Lots of these words are rarely heard these days except by older folks.

    Jings - whit does that say aboot me!!! Aw Naw!!!!


    Dusk is 'gloam' {literally gloom} hence 'roamin in the gloamin'

  2. This morning: sodden; stair-rods; ceaseless; unrelenting; grey; miserable - I guess you get the picture!

  3. High blue skies, warm days, cool evenings, slowly moving into fall while still clinging to the tailend of summer. Fall is often strange along the coast, one day almost summer (in the 80's last week) and then dipping down into the 60's only to roll back up in the 70's, you might say fall is a roller coaster ride here.

  4. This post would make a great English class discussion! Really, really great. And your day, your weather is exactly like this one a little further north, except 1. the horse, and 2. I didn't go out. :<) It is now pouring again after nice sunlight earlier. 56º

  5. Wow, i love reading Alistair's Scots expressions...and who better than the Scots to understand cold wet weather?! To me cold wet weather is usually unoriginally summed up as "yuck." Our weather in Virginia yesterday was startling...fairly heavy rain, strong wind (remaining leaves absolutely pouring off the trees!), and temperatures in the 50s that felt surprisingly warm, to be followed by thunder at midnight.

    The kittens are growing up into gorgeous young cats!

  6. Love your post ...great photos ...I'm with Alistair ...dreich is a perfect word ...one my mother often used, even when we lived in England. I love dour too although sullen folk are often thus described. Here in Fife it is dark, windy, wet and cold ....basically ... dreich.xx

  7. What a wonderful post! It reminded me of the British novels that I love so much.

    Today, I can actually see the mountains across the river, although there are dark clouds rolling by overhead...promising rain later today. At least, there is no FOG. For, at times, it is so foggy here on this little mountainside, it reminds me of being on ship far at sea.

    It seems the barn cats are pretty smart after all...they stayed in where it was warm and dry and waited for you to come to them! ;-)

  8. One word : freezing! But then that's to we who have been basking in 90 degree weather for most of the past month. Yes, we're back. It will take me a few days to figure out what to say and what photos to post. Hope to get started blogging by the weekend. Maybe sooner. The barn kittens look to be thriving! -- and have a hand delivered bowl of cream, no less. Oh to be a barn cat. I am having to coax the birds back again since they haven't been fed by us for a month. So happy to be back and catch up with everybody.