Writing my way through the A-to-Z blogging challenge, I’m sharing my thoughts and reflections on a lexicon (vocabulary specific to a certain subject) of unusual, obscure, or simply charming-to-me words. Ludic is defined as “playful, in an aimless way” and that’s my plan for approaching this challenge – keeping my feet on the joy trail and meandering wherever the daily word takes me.
M is for…
mirabilia – (plural noun) phenomena that inspire wonder; winsome curiosities; small marvels; eccentric enchantments. First recorded usage 1708.
I love this word, and I love the fact that our world is filled with mirabilia. The only thing required of us is to keep our eyes and hearts open.
As Mary Oliver wrote: “Truly, we live with mysteries too marvelous to be understood . . . Let me keep company always with those who say ‘Look!’ and laugh in astonishment, and bow their heads.”
Today I’m inspired to simply share a few thing that belong on my list of mirabilia.
- The National Center for Atmospheric Research reports that the average cloud is the same weight as 100 elephants. Doesn’t that make you think about clouds differently?
- This one comes from the obituary of Berholt Wolpe: “one of his most treasured possessions was a miniature sweet pea with pole green leaves and tiny sky-blue flowers. The seed it came from was the grandchild of a seed that had been found in a tomb of one of the Pharaohs.”
I’ve mentioned that I’m enthralled with both ancient Egypt and flowers, so this little factoid obviously delights me. But knowing that this information was shared in an obituary is an eccentric marvel to me as well. It rather raises the bar for obituaries in my opinion.
- When long rows of cumulus clouds are oriented parallel to the direction of the wind, these are called cloud streets. They are long rows of puffy cumulus or cumulus-type clouds. Examples are most often seen via satellite photos, but sometimes someone gets lucky enough to capture the phenomena in a photo from the ground. There are a number of fabulous examples here on the Earth Sky website. Just thinking about this immediately transports me to cloudland. Who doesn’t want to travel this way?
- Silk is usually made from cocoons spun by silkworms. But there is another, much rarer cloth known as sea silk or byssus, which is made from long silky filaments secreted by the gland in the foot of a certain type of clam. The clam uses these filaments to attach itself to the sea bed. But when spun and treated with lemon juice, the fiber turns a golden color which never fades. While there were never many people producing this kind of silk, as of a couple of years ago there was thought to be only one person left who could harvest it, spin it, and make it shine like gold.
- I’m like a crow – I’m greatly attracted to sparkly things. Israeli artist Sigalit Landau created a project she called “Salt Bride.” She submerged a long black gown in the Dead Sea, and after two months in the highly salted water, the dress was totally encrusted and entirely magical looking. I clearly remember how thrilled I was as a child immersing a piece of string in a glass filled with a supersaturated saline solution, and watching the crystals climb up the string. Landau’s project was like this, but exponentially more magnificent.
I could probably carry on forever listing mirabilia, but I’ll stop here and ask, what are you marveling at? What’s enchanting you? What curiosity has you stopped in your tracks? Do tell – you know I’d love to hear.
How wonderful is the photo of the von Karmen vortex amidst the cloud street! Alos, I remember seeing a video about Chiara Vigo, the only woman who has learned how to transform the sea silk. I had to watch it a few times because I was first taken with listening to her speak beautiful Italian. I was also struck by her deep respect for her material and its source. I thought you’d enjoy so here’s a link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ITzYSYi_rGE
The von Karmen vortex are totally awesome. I can’t help but think of Van Gogh’s Starry Night. And thank you so much for posting the video – she’s a living treasure in the truest sense.
What another wonderful word. Right now the views from the hilltops that I’ve been seeing on my A to Z SF journey have been making me marvel. I love sparklies too and that Salt Bride sounds marvelous!
I must say your photographs are making me marvel as well Janet. And I’m impressed with all the stairs you’ve climbed and the hills you’ve navigated. So much fun!
I like your theme and learning all these fun facts.
Thanks Ellen, and I’m glad you stopped by.
Sea silk sounds incredible. I’m off to look for photos of it. I’m marveling at that seed and at the weight of clouds. I never knew!
I hope you get a chance to visit the link Patricia included in her comment above – it’s a fabulous video well worth watching.
One thing I can remember that truly enchanted me — and still does! — is Tiffany’s stained glass panel, “The Mermaid.” It was in Tiffany’s studio until he passed on and his descendants have it on loan at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago in their Hall of Gems. I was blessed enough to go see it. Once seen never forgotten. They also have a BOULDER size piece of raw jade in there I never forgot.
Silk from a clam, who would have ever guessed?
My “M” Jethro Tull song is here:
I’m in Chicago, and I’ve seen the gorgeous Mermaid window, as well as fabulous treasures in the Hall of Gems. They’re in the Field Museum though, not the Museum of Science and Industry. Both are fabulous museums and well worth spending great swaths of time visiting.
what a delightful word mirabilia – and I love your collection
talking of clouds have you heard of the morning glory cloud that forms over the northern part of this island in the springs months not necessarily every year but eagerly anticipated by gliders who go up and surf it.
It is a roll cloud and can extend 1000kms.
so yes clouds are on my list
another mirabillia for me is webs particularly the webs that spring forth from a misty morning and I wake up the sun rises and there is hundreds of glistening magical webs woven thru grasses trees shrubs flowers fences .
such delicate beauty
Oh my, I just looked up morning glory clouds – how utterly fabulous. And the idea of gliders surfing it makes me so extraordinarily happy I’m literally bouncing. So cool!
I absolutely agree the morning reveal of webs clearly belongs on the list of mirabilis. Such wonders to marvel at!
Oh, your list is transporting!
Here’s one of mine: watching hummingbirds “drink” from bird of paradise blooms. I never knew they liked bird of paradise! I somewhat recently moved my computer next to a window, I can now see the two BoP bushes and the hummers. Magical.
N is for Nine Things: https://www.anne-m-bray.com/blog/167688/atozchallenge-2021-n-is-for-nine-things
The N Shoe: https://repeatsamb.blogspot.com/2021/04/atozchallenge-2021-n-is-for-nilsson.html
Oh, Anne, how fabulous!
This was a magical post to read.
I read it wearing an awe-struck amazement (more commonly known as mouth agape in wonder) look:)
Clouds as heavy as elephants– how light must elephants be. They don’t look it though;)
LOL – mouth agape is one of my most common facial expressions, but I do believe I favor the term awe-struck amazement.
I love mirabilia, and the word is perfect for the concept. All kinds of fun, quirky, beguiling, fascinating, things all over the place, everywhere we go! Just longing to be noticed, appreciated, celebrated, and shared.
Black and White: N for Neverwinter, Northrend
So true Anne. Mirabilia everywhere!
The word reminds me of Mirabilia Urbis Romae, a medieval text about the wonders of Rome 🙂 I love all your tidbits! Especially the one about spinning golden silk, that sounds like a folktale…
The Multicolored Diary
Oooh, the medieval text sounds great. I hope you get a chance to view the short video that was linked to in the comments about the golden clam silk. I know you’d appreciate it.