Archive for May, 2013

What’s In A Name?

Saturday, May 25th, 2013

Crows001

I am fascinated by the names that have been given to groups of animals of different species.

Of course we’re all familiar with ‘flock’ and ‘herd’ and ‘pack.’  But what about ‘obstinacy,’ ‘crash,’ and ‘hedge?’  Buffalo gather in an obstinacy, a crash is a group of hippopotami, and a group of herons is called a hedge!

I have to wonder who thought of calling a group of bears a sleuth, a group of foxes a leash, or a group of wombats a wisdom (did someone discover that the group-think of wombats is superior to that of humans?).  And how on earth did a group of rattlesnakes come to be called a rhumba?  Did some observer find their movements dance-like?  

A few of the names do make some kind of sense.  It’s not hard to see why a group of porcupines is called a prickle, a group of giraffes is a tower, a group of peacocks is an ostentation, and a group of swans is a whiteness!

Some of the strangest names, it seems, have been reserved for birds.  Do I detect some hostility in naming a group of ravens an unkindness and a group of crows a murder?  Negative-sounding names are also applied to other birds, such as a deceit of lapwings and a squabble of seagulls.  I wonder what those people were trying to cook up when they named a group of raptors a cauldron and a group of nighthawks a kettle.

A group of hummingbirds or finches, both pretty little birds, is called a charm.

Even emotions are expressed in the names of some bird groupings, like an exaltation of larks, a pitying of turtle doves.

And maybe we are expressing respect in calling a group of owls or rooks a parliament, a group of eagles a convocation, and a group of plovers a congregation.

In a future posting, I may delve into some questions these names raise in my mind.  Who came up with them?  And how did it come to be that animal groups became a category in which naming became so extraordinarily playful and unpredictable?

One might call this whole assemblage of names a creativity. –April Moore

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Save Some Trees–It’s Easy

Tuesday, May 21st, 2013

I have just learned something I would like to pass on to EARTH CONNECTION readers, and to everyone else, for that matter.

A few days ago I watched this short video that my stepson Aaron enthusiastically told me about.

When most of us wash our hands in a public restroom, we grab at least two, maybe even three or four, paper towels from the dispenser to dry our hands.  We know from experience that just one paper towel won’t get the job done.

But this entertaining little video shows that it is possible to get your hands quite dry, using just one paper towel.  And that’s good news because if all
Americans adopt the ‘one towel method,’ we can save 571 million pounds of paper every year.  And that means five million trees don’t have to lose their lives.

I admit, I watched the video with some skepticism.  But then I spent most of the weekend at a meeting at a conference facility.  There I had many chances to try the new technique.  Well, I’m sold.  It really works.

I hope you’ll watch–and try it out.–April Moore

http://video.ted.com/talk/podcast/2012X/None/JoeSmith_2012X.mp4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Children, It’s Spring

Sunday, May 12th, 2013

Andy and I just returned home after a trip.  How very much greener and leafier it is here than it was when we left 12 days ago.  Spring is in full bloom.  I post here this sweet poem by Mary Oliver.  Truly, spring is a wonder, whether we’ve seen dozens of them or just a few.–April Moore

violets

CHILDREN, IT’S SPRING
     by Mary Oliver

And this is the lady
Whom everyone loves,
Ms. Violet
in her purple gown

Or, on special occasions,
A dress the color
Of sunlight. She sits
In the mossy weeds and waits

To be noticed.
She loves dampness.
She loves attention.
She loves especially

To be picked by careful fingers,
Young fingers, entranced
By what has happened
To the world.

We, the older ones,
Call in Spring,
And we have been through it
Many times.

But there is still nothing
Like the children bringing home
Such happiness
In their small hands.

 

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