Chris McCully


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Poppy, meadowsweet and trout (1)

Friday, 1 July 2022 at 08:57

Meadowsweet The etymology of meadowsweet is splendid - it's not meadow+sweet, as in a plant which gladdens the eye when one looks at a meadow, but mead+sweetener: parts of the plant were used in sweetening mead (the drink). Grigson provides an etymology in Old English medo-wyrt ('mead+root'), which gives a mediating form 'mead+wort'. All the same, because the plant does strike the onlooker with its creamy freshness I prefer the metaphorical appropriacy of meadowsweet to meadwort.

  Poppies and meadowsweet, and summer in full flight and fancy. Yesterday there was also a small rise in water level. The trout responded sporadically and we released a brace and a half in the afternoon, the best of them two wild fish of around 12 inches. I was pleased to see them: wild trout of that size have been relatively absent from my own catches this season so far.

Poppy, meadowsweet and trout (2)

Friday, 1 July 2022 at 08:48

Field poppy The time of poppy and meadowsweet and (on any summer lift of water) of occasional trout coming to hand. House martins were looking after their nest in the rafters of the hut; the dale looked rain-freshened. In the fells there were cloudbursts which caused a short-lived lift of water in the afternoon.
     The poppy's been named and used for centuries. Every part of the plant is toxic; it's the pods, crushed and distilled into opium, which are used medicinally. The plant's also been employed as a symbol for love, loss, death and remembrance. The English etymology goes back to Old English popig, earlier popaeg, from a Low Latin form papavum, from a Classical Latin form papaver, which in turn was borrowed from Sumerian (according to Grigson). The diachronic depth of the etymology attests the practical and symbolic importance of the plant.

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