05 December 2007

Wednesday: Words and Winter

I read recently that the collective noun for Ravens was an unkindness of ravens. "Before or after Hitchcock made that movie?", I thought.

This led me to a search engine to confirm. While I can't find a definitive origin (I'm sure it's out there, but I didn't look extensively), I did find that there are numerous collective nouns for birds.

How about a murder of crows? Or a siege of bitterns? Others include:

-a wake of buzzards
-a cast of falcons
-a confusion of guinea fowl
-a kettle of hawks (Dinner, anyone?)
-a parliament of owls
-a congress of eagles
-an exultation of skylarks

I thought a A Unkindness of Ravens, A Murder of Crows might make a good title for a mystery. I don't read mysteries, but I wasn't surprised when I queried Amazon that I found results. Ruth Rendell wrote a book called An Unkindness of Ravens; Cuba Gooding starred in a movie in 2000 called A Murder of Crows. More on collective nouns for birds can be found here.


Winter is still a few weeks away, but we had our first snowfall overnight. I love the first snow of the year: new, fresh, bright, the whiteness of it all. I like celebrating the cycles of the seasons and snow, rather than ice or cold, is the sign of winter to me. I like to be reminded of it, but I would be happy if winter only lasted a few days and then we could get on with it. Snow that melts after a few hours is the best kind. Today's was like that, at least on the roadways. I had to grab my camera to capture the snow before it melted away:

The thick wet snow coating the limbs of the trees:

The last few green leaves on the undergrowth, struggling against the elements:

Chimneys seem purposeful. I like the monochromaticism of this picture, all whites and grey. A plume of smoke would have been perfect!

The abandoned, seasonal bench on the front porch, where it isn't too welcoming at this time of year:

The beauty of a single leaf upon the new snow:


Charlotte said...

Love your snow pics, Cam! I *wish* we would have some snow already in Europe. It's still damp and mild.

I love the expression "parliament of owls". We had owls roosting in our garden in late summer and I enjoyed talking about our parliament. I once counted six owls in one tree.

Imani said...

I love that first snowfall too! (Proper ones that stay on the ground and don't melt right away.) Despite my tropical origins I'm rather attached to a distinct four seasons.

I like "a cast of falcons".

Bardiac said...

I like a congress of eagles. Reminds me of the Parliament of Foules.

ps. NO SNOW! /brrrrrrrr It's way way too cold.

Cam said...

The trees still look lovely here, but another 4 inches fell overnight and I'm procrastinating because I don't want to drive in this to get to work.

Charlotte -- 6 owls at once? That must have been an awesome sight. I've only ever seen one at a time. The last time I saw one, he was sitting on the edge of my koi pond. I'm not sure that owls eat fish, so it was difficult to disturb him, sitting there so majestically, but I wasn't sure his interests weren't culinary.

Emily Barton said...

I'd heard of a murder of crows but not an unkindness of ravens. What fun! They'd make good ghost story titles, too, huh? And I love your pictures. I wish the snow would stay on the ground all winter, somehow without ever sticking to the roads or making parking lots and sidewalks icy and slippery.