Showing posts with label birds. Show all posts
Showing posts with label birds. Show all posts

Monday, March 11, 2013


Adventures in Logophilia, Day 181:


This adjective means having the wings extended as if in flight, like a heraldic bird; generally used to describe something flying or capable of flight, or simply quick and nimble - metaphorically, moving as if flying.  This is from the Latin verb volare, to fly.

Juvenile Least Tern in Flight
juvenile least tern in flight by mike forsman

Monday, April 9, 2012

Word-smithery: Halcyon Days (Jillian)

A word has been dancing in my head these last few days. Since the bizarre 85-90 degree heat of March has finally retreated (anything goes in the Midwest), we have returned to halcyon days: temperatures not quite at 70 during the day, cool nights, blue skies with a swirls and daubs of cirrus cloud here and there. The violas and pansies are growing. Birds (and the gibbons at the zoo just a few blocks away) are in chorus from the wee hours of the morning till sunset.

Halcyon? It is a simple adjective, really, meaning "calm and peaceful." A halcyon is also a bird out of Greek mythology, but probably refers to the kingfisher. According to Ye Olde Wiky-pedia, it is "said to breed in a floating nest at sea during the winter solstice, during which time it charms the wind and waves into calm." The myth tells of Alcyone and Ceyx who angered Zeus. Ceyx was killed at sea, and Alcyone threw herself into the sea in grief. Out of pity, Zeus turned them into halcyon birds.

I've also learned that "halcyon days" refers to a seven-day period in wintertime when storms do not occur. Apparently, this is when Alcyone (or the kingfisher) lays her eggs. Nevertheless... "halcyon" as a descriptor for a period of mild, calm weather in Spring... or Summer... or any season is appropriate. I think so, anyways.

I hope at least the halcyons of Spring stick around for a little bit longer before the heat returns and scorches all this lovely greeness.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

We're Whimsy Magpies (Jillian)

Ravens afoot in Susanna Clarke's Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell; Portia Rosenberg, artist.

Writers are never bored - at least they have no excuse to be. We're whimsy magpies, after all, collecting all the shiny objects we can find. I am living proof. Things are the things I've sought out a'wiki-ing and a'lexicon-ing, this summer:
  • The constellation Virgo and other stars.
  • Life cycles (and colors) of stars.
  • Supernovae and black holes.
  • Theories behind faster-than-light travel.
  • Theory of Relativity (for dummies).
  • What happens when a person falls into a coma.
  • Parts of the brain.
  • Hypothermia.
  • Saint Radegund.
  • Making up hybrid names like Tristopher and Cambrose.
  • Eye-shine (cats have it, people don't).
  • Formula to convert temperatures from Fahrenheit to Celsius (because evidently, the space age is too cool for Fahrenheit).
  • Demon possession and exorcism.
  • Greek legend of Ariadne and Theseus.
  • Ominous bird imagery and mythology: crows, ravens, magpies, etc.
  • Difference between clairvoyance and telepathy under the psychic umbrella.
  • Beatles songs and the inspirations behind them.
I find these little intellectual treasure hunts keep my brain awake, and inevitably feed into my creative projects. Try it!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Birds (Michelle)

Pennsylvania has finally surrendered to spring, and the yard is full of dandelions, greenery, and birds. I watched six goldfinches jockeying for position in a flowering tree the other day, and I am trying to learn a few birdsongs. My sister and her children are embarrassingly good at identifying birdsongs --- while I'm still not entirely convinced that kildeer is even a bird, really.

So, spring is sprung, and it's appropriate to return to the subject of birds.

Here, Adam O'Riordan at the Guardian's books blog wonders why birds remain such powerful, fertile images.

Here, there are recordings of birdsongs. As a novelist, at least, I find that I am constantly in need of expanding my concrete knowledge of the world --- to describe not a tree, but an oak, a maple, an ash. Likewise, with birds --- who croaks, who warbles, who screams.


to a blog by three people who write, for anyone else who wants to write. It's a cruel world for creators, and here we promise support, whimsy, and curiosity that will hopefully keep your pen moving and keyboard tapping!

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