It’s been in many ways an odd week. What the chickens thought of the eclipse
has been carefully reconstructed from forensic evidence, in combination with
subsequent interviews: water dispenser clogged with kicked shavings and dirt;
agitated birds complaining on our return that they weren’t let out at their
“Unusual circumstances,” was Mimo’s summary.
“Oh yes,” I said. “How was that?”
“The sun got dirt in it,” Appenzeller’s view.
Pecorino, “Like the water.”
“I hope you didn’t look directly at it,” I offered.
Pecorino, “What’s wrong with looking at water?”
L. and I were disoriented by the experience. I woke at two thirty of the a.m.
and drifted for an hour, thinking that we had agreed we’d leave at four. L.
woke at four, thinking that was the agreement. When we arrived at the
field—with next to no traffic along the way—we attempted to sleep…with Hamish
in the car. The SAAB’s seats are great in that they fit your back and support
driving; they’re not so good to sleep in. I think I was out for twenty minutes
before dawn woke us fully.
Up we rose, to wander around a vineyard’s fields and wait. There was wine
available at breakfast. Instead of fifteen minutes of fame, we got fifteen
seconds of totality. It was an unusual episode..., fun, but not the emotional
experience others have reported. Hamish’s view is that we should really do
this more often. When everyone else was looking up, he stared down, fascinated
by the noises gophers were making below. He cocked one ear, turned his head
and switched to input from the other. He ran and ran and ran and ran. Back
home, we all napped.
A new historic question occurred to me: why were men called *cow*boys and not,
say, steer boys or “dowgie" boys? I think the confusion arose in Spanish. In
English “dairymen" do cows and “drovers" drive steers. (Or, past tense...
drovers drove steers.) Imagine a cowboy getting off his horse, pushing back
his vaquero-derived hat and pulling on a teat?
“Put away that pistol, mister, I’m milking my Friesians.”
I have Friesians on my mind—the breed of cows—because last week’s “top model”
incident featured a Friesian--a woman from Friesland. She said that Dutch
people don’t regard her kind as properly from Holland because they have their
Look up the history of the Frisii, ancestors of today’s Friesan peoples, and
you find interesting stuff. They are mentioned by Romans as opponents in an
account which includes the Chauci and the Angles and the Saxons. Wikipedia
says that the, “Anglo-Saxons of England and the early Frisians were formed from
largely identical tribal confederacies and so their respective languages were
very similar.” I don’t know what “*largely* identical” means but I’m
interested to find that the Frisian language group is now divided into mutually
unintelligible languages: West Frisian (spoken by my Dutch neighbor and 350,000
or so others), Saterland Frisian, spoken by 2,000 people in the German
municipality of Saterland and North Frisian, spoken by 10,000 Germans in North
Frisia, on the west coast of Jutland.
(The web says Chaucer got his name from the French for shoe maker; no one links
him with the Chauci. Did the link not flit through your mind?)
It was a week for considering dialects. J.’s friend N. sounds to me like a
Geordie but true Geordies apparently are having none of it. To them she speaks
Pitmatic, a dialect of northern coal miners. Her Ph.D. advisor at the
University of Newcastle (where Geordie is the predominant dialect) objects when
she drops into Pitmatic. I love it.
She’s a Magpie, a supporter of Newcastle United, so she can give a lusty
rendition of “The Blayden Races,” a tune I sometimes play in class to
demonstrate how far from standard English British accents are:
Diverse world, innit?
We have had some success closing the inner door to the coop. Three birds
together and no crowing. But hot days are returning—supposed to be close to a
hundred on Monday—so we may not yet be done with Appenzeller in night exile.
Apparently in Peru a vaquero corresponds to the English term skiver, someone
who avoids hard work. Odd.