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.