"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Sons of the Pioneers theme for TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto. A curmudgeon artist's musings melding metaphors and journalism, for readers in more than 150 countries.

Monday, April 20, 2020

The colors of a newfound word?

"The susurrus of curtains," 5 x 7, cold press paper
When I'm reading books and discover a word I don't know, I usually circle or underline it. Then at the end of the chapter, I go back and look it up, usually to forget it. Thus it was with a word I found in Larson's Isaac Storm, earlier this month.
But reading Watership Down just recently, it was used in a different context.
"Susurrus." 
Have you ever heard that beautiful sounding word before? It just sort of begs to be looked up, doesn't it?
It was one of several intriguing words I discovered in recent books. Do you know these: "luffed," virga," "soffit," "mesoscale," "furricking"?
I didn't either, and looking them up, I found a familiar word, "fretting," used in a different way.
Here are the three uses of the word "Susurrus" I found.
 Isaac's Storm: "He heard the susurrus of curtains luffed by the breeze."

Watership Down: referring to trees at the edge of the meadow in a breeze.
 OED, example: "Plover fretted the horizon with the dark susurrus of their winds."
Huh? "fretted"?
Oh, the definition of "susurrus"? "A whispering, murmuring, humming, rustling."
Beautiful words. I though of those lace window curtains beautifully described in the slight pre-hurricane breeze in Isaac's Storm.
Today's watercolor,  "The susurrus of curtains."
And if you want to know the meaning of those other words, look them up.


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