Sunday, 22 March 2009

nature notes

Richard Mabey's Nature Cure taught me these words:

An ecolect, which Mabey says was a word coined by surrealist communist poet critic Hugh Sykes Davies, describes the distinctive set of language and customs that small groups develop and use together to cement their special social bond, 'and reassure themselves that things are as they have always been.'

An isophene, along the pattern of a isotherm or isobar, 'is a line connecting the sites where the average first flowering of a species occurs on the same day. So the primrose isophene for 21 March [wish I had typed this yesterday] might join the Pembrokeshire cliffs and north Devon lanes and wild gardens in central Norwich.'

Here is Mabey on plums:
Domesticated plums originated with the humble European sloe, crossed with myrobylans (cherry-plums) from the Middle East. Hence Damascenes, Damasks, damsons. Seventeenth-century plum varieties are like fruits from the Song of Solomon: the Great Damask Violet, the Fotheringham, the Perdigron, the Cloth of Gold. I hoped ours might be John Evelyn's favourite, the Dark Primordial. Its frost-at-dawn bloom and pristine eggishness made me want to put one in an egg-cup and eat it with a spoon.

No comments: