Writing my way through the A-to-Z blogging challenge, I’ve tasked myself with leading you on a meandering tour of the virtual garden of delights and curiosities and thoughts that make up my world – all through the lens of unusual, obscure, or simply charming-to-me words.
J is for…
jacinth: 1. Hyacinth 2. Orange or red-brown zircon
I do enjoy words with definitions that are wildly divergent. And this word is a double win for me as I love both flowers and stones.
First up, let’s talk about hyacinths. A friend often said “hyacinths for the soul” to refer to special things she was grateful for, and I fell in love with the expression. I didn’t know then she was referring to John Greenleaf Whittier’s poem:
“If thou of fortune be bereft,
and in thy store there be but left
two loaves, sell one, and with the
dole, buy hyacinths to feed thy soul.”
Somehow those words seem even more poignant and inviting in these times, don’t you think?
I always love origin stories, and hyacinth has a beautifully tragic one. Greek mythology tells of Hyacinth, a Spartan prince who was Apollo’s lover. Hyacinth was admired by others including the winds Zephyrus and Boreas, and a mortal man Thamyris; but Hyacinth chose Apollo over all the rest, and they had wonderful adventures with Apollo teaching him many things.
One day they were playing a game of quoits, and Apollo’s throw slit the clouds with the force of his toss. In an effort to impress Apollo, Hyacinth ran after it to catch it, but when the metal ring hit the ground, it bounced back and fatally wounded him.
Although Apollo used all his healing skills, Hyacinth died, and Apollo was bereft, blaming himself. He promised he would always remember Hyacinth, and where Hyancinth’s blood had spilled, Apollo created a flower. On the petals, he inscribed “Al Al” as an expression of his grief.
In the wild, hyacinths are usually blue. They were introduced to Western Europe in the 16th century, and the Dutch became masters at breeding cultivars. Now the flowers are available in a rainbow of colors. Although I think they’re beautiful in all their shades, blue is definitely my favorite in both it’s color and scent.
The fact that jacinth is also the traditional name for orange or red-brown zircon is curious.
There is an Old Testament biblical reference to the jeweled breastplate of Aaron, that’s contains a mention of jacinth. But it’s not entirely clear what gemstone it referred to as at that time gem names were really only color descriptions. So jacinth might actually have been a blue-violet stone. How jacinth came to refer to the orange/red/brown ziron is unknown. Another of life’s many mysteries.
So tell me – what do you consider hyacinths for your soul? What’s your favorite flower, your favorite stone? Do tell – you know I love to hear.
I have white hyacinths in my front flower bed. (I think?) My favorite flower is the Stargazer lily, hence the name of my blog. I also love astronomy. Family and friends would be what I’m most grateful for. Reading and running/walking are also soothing to my soul.
Sounds like you picked a perfect name for your blog. Stargazers are lovely. Well, who am I kidding, I think all flowers are lovely. 🙂 Hope you continue to find soul soothers Margaret.
Hyacinths are beautiful. I discovered a pink one growing next to my garage a few days ago to my delight. My cats are definitely the hyacinths for my soul. Two fluffy beasts who accompany me to whatever room I happen to set up in with my computer. As I write this, one is on my lap and the other is alongside me (the laptop is propped up on a pillow). 🙂
I agree, kitties are definitely hyacinths! How fun you stumbled upon a surprise pink flower – those kind of discoveries are pure delight. And I’m delighted you stopped by today – thank you.
I didn’t know hyacinths in the wild are usually blue. I think of them as hot pink. I like how cheerful they look out in the yard, nestled by other flowers. Neighbors have some growing and I appreciate seeing the flowers as I walk by. Small things make life grand.
I couldn’t agree more – the small things really matter. Today the first jonquil popped open in my front yard, and I couldn’t be more delighted. I imagine my walks around the neighborhood next week will be providing more eye candy. Yay.
I was just admiring my neighbour’s hyacinths by her door, before coming in and finding this post! They are a pretty coral colour… so in that red-orange spectrum! My favourite flower is whatever is blooming at the moment &*> Though in planting my yard in OZ, I opted for various different geraniums, palms and nasturtium… YAM xx
Coral hyacinths sound lovely. And I think I’m with you Yamini – my favorite flower is whatever is blooming.
I’m with you, Deborah, all flowers are beautiful. My special favorite are peonies. Peonies and warm breezes in sunshine are the hyacinths of my soul. Such a tragic story of dear Hyacinth.
I confess to a penchant for peonies as well – all that frilly abundance and swoon-worthy fragrance. I’ve got a couple of bushes in my backyard and I gave them a pep talk today. (t’s still a bit early for them to green up and start looking alive again, but I wanted them to know their presence was much anticipated and greatly desired. 🙂 Wishing you plenty of warm breezes, sunshine, and peonies!
Right now, I am pleased to see ANY color! (Please excuse my lack of commenting on your posts. I am sheltering in a place with limited internet access)
Yes to color! And there’s absolutely no need to apologize Beth. First I’m glad you’re safe sheltering in place, even if the internet access is limited. But more importantly, I’m an absolute advocate for exquisite self care, especially in these times. Truthfully, I”m finding myself vastly behind in my usual extensive blog visiting and commenting during April’s challenge. I just don’t have the energy, but I’m okay with that. I may be visiting folks well into May and June, but that’s okay too.
Thank you for this beautiful poem Dedorah.
I’m curious about the poet’s middle name. Did he adopt it or was he given it? Greenleaf sounds so prophetic for someone who’d sell his second last loaf of bread for a plant.
I love Hyacinths and I’m partial to the blue ones, too:)
I had to think about which flower to call my favourite. I think sunflowers, alyssums and wildflowers make it to the top three on my list.
It’s the New Year (Baisakhi) in India and many other countries in the East today (13th April). Wishing you happiness, good health and new beginnings on this special Spring Day.
Thank you for your kind wishes Arti, and I wish you many blessings as well as you step into your New Year!
Isn’t Greenleaf a fabulous name? I often wonder about people’s lives and how a name might guide them.
Great flower choices. But then again, aren’t they all? I’m thinking about planting sunflowers this year – I haven’t done that in some time and there just so cheery I’m not sure I can resist.
I love the scent of hyacinths! I love both flowers and stones, it’s hard to pick a favorite. I really like lily-of-the-valley and tulips. As for stones, I have a soft spot for lace agate and all kinds of jaspers.
The Multicolored Diary
I love the scent of hyacinths as well, although they do vary a bit by variety/color. And I confess lily-of-the-valley are favorites as well. They should be blooming here around now, but I’m not seeing any yet. We’re having a strange Spring though, so I’ve not yet lost hope. When they do bloom, I like to gather little bouquets and set them all around the house, and enjoy their scent wherever I am.
Blue Lace Agate is a lovely stone – so soothing; and Jaspers are a wonderful and varied clan.
I have blue and white hyacinths blooming by my door so that I can smell them as I go in and out. They aren’t my favorite flower to look at, although I do love that blue, but they are such a wonderful part of spring – especially together with the yellow forsythia and daffodils.
Black and White (Words and Pictures)
I love the idea of flowers scenting the entrance, and there’s something about springtime blossoms that utterly delight. There’s a freshness that renews a winter-weary soul.