Word Up

There are so many words in the English language that came from other languages and other times. Every once in a while I’ll be doing something completely UN-word-related (like walking a dog) and it will hit me what a word actually MEANS. The most recent experience like this was “manger.” I was walking at the Refuge with Teddy and suddenly an extremely negligible epiphany, “Manger — manger. “Fuck,” I thought, “that’s French. But ‘Away in the trough, no crib for a bed’ wouldn’t scan. And pronouncing it in French? ‘manjay’? OK you get an internal rhyme but it sounds silly.”

So here we have “cavalier,” a word I’ve heard mostly describing a careless attitude. “I don’t like your cavalier attitude,” my mom was wont to say when I dismissed her hysterical concerns over my behavior. Cavalier? French AGAIN. A guy who rides a horse. I know there is a lot of history behind all these words, but we live on the surface of history so what difference does that make to us? None, really. Just fodder for the pensamientos of idleness.

You are all probably on tenterhooks about the situation of my Scarlet Emperor beans. Tonight is predicted to be the year’s first hard freeze.


The beans are still sending out new tendrils and I’ve harvested a bowl full of dried beans. There are still several almost-ripe pods on the plants. Wang Wei was the first to stop sending out tendrils and blossoms, and also the first to yield a ripe pod. The rest are not slowing down much in spite of the colder nights and shorter days. I’m torn between cutting them down before the frost hits or leaving them to nature. You can see snow in the forecast, too.

26 thoughts on “Word Up

  1. It has been quite the autumn! The tricks it can play on our plants. I can’t remember when I last had flowers doing so well in October and still harvesting tomatoes! But, the writing is on the wall…snow forecast for the coming week and nightly temps below zero. It had to happen some time. Wishing your beans a last hurrah before the kill!

    • Thank you! Down here fall has been pretty normal but too dry. The beans let me know yesterday that they’ll take what comes, but I should take some thought for the tomatoes. The birds are still getting seeds from the sunflowers. Thanks to FB memories, I’ve seen that it’s very normal for us to have the first snow around now. I think we’ll be relieved. ❤

        • I don’t know. I don’t think any two poets approach the act of writing a poem the same way and maybe the same poet doesn’t write every poem from the same starting point. For some it’s a technical exercise, for other’s it’s just an emotional splooch. When I do write a poem it’s from the perspective that my poem is the least important thing in the world even though sometimes I end up liking one. The worst one I ever wrote was during the 3 month interval my freshman year when I was trying to be a hippy. The salient line in that poem is, “My hand is God.” 😀

  2. I subscribe to daily word at Merrimack Webster to expand my English since it’s my second language. The word manger reminds me of a chain of restaurant Pret a Manger in London. Now I get the meaning of the establishment.

  3. Leave the beans and take them out in the spring. The beans lock nitrogen into the soil and that’s a necessary condition for maximum growth!! We aren’t getting a frost until maybe next week… Sparky harvested all the rest of the beans but hasn’t taken the trellis down yet. He will but won’t pull up the beans. He’s harvesting kale and arugula this week but won’t pull up the plants. I’ve put off swapping the summer for winter clothes but it looks like I won’t be able to delay much longer…

    • Sounds like a plan. I went out and said goodbye to them a little bit ago and thanked them for being so incredible as “friends” and for all the beans they gave me. Tomorrow I’ll see how they fair and cut them down and pull out the stakes. Usually I cover the beds with cardboard in winter to keep the dogs out but now I have a good fence. 🙂

  4. So got to read here. The discussion might have taken place after I read this post and moved to another post yesterday, which is why I thought to check back any missed post since you mentioned it in your today’s post. now I can relate to it much better.

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