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Quote & Word of the Week Word of the Week

Word of the Week

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circumlocution

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1 : the use of an unnecessarily large number of words to express an idea
2 : evasion in speech

Did You Know?

In The King’s English, grammarian H. W. Fowler advised, “Prefer the single word to the circumlocution.” Alas, that good advice was not followed by the framers of circumlocution. They actually used two terms in forming that word for unnecessarily verbose prose or speech. But their choices were apt; circumlocution derives from the Latin circum-, meaning “around,” and locutio, meaning “speech”—so it literally means “roundabout speech.” Since at least the early 16th century, English writers have used circumlocution with disdain, naming a thing to stop, or better yet, to avoid altogether. Charles Dickens even used it to satirize political runarounds in the 1857 novel Little Dorrit with the creation of the fictional Circumlocution Office, a government department that delayed the dissemination of information and just about everything else. From www.merriam-webster.com

Quote & Word of the Week Word of the Week

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voracious

adjective \vaw-RAY-shus\

1 : having a huge appetite : ravenous

2 : excessively eager : insatiable

Did You Know?

Voracious is one of several English words that derive from the Latin verb vorare, which means “to eat greedily” or “to devour.” Vorare is also an ancestor of devour and of the -ivorous words, which describe the diets of various animals. These include carnivorous (“meat-eating”), herbivorous (“plant-eating”), omnivorous (“feeding on both animals and plants”), frugivorous (“fruit-eating”), graminivorous (“feeding on grass”), and piscivorous (“fish-eating”). From www.merriam-webster.com

Quote & Word of the Week Word of the Week

Word of the Week

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gulosity

noun \goo-LAH-suh-tee\

: excessive appetite : greediness

Did You Know?

Gulosity is a rare word for “gluttony” that sees only occasional use in English these days. It derives via Middle English and Anglo-French from the Latin adjective gulosus (“gluttonous“) and ultimately from the noun gula (“gullet“). It was apparently a favorite word of famed 18th-century author and lexicographer Samuel Johnson, who has been falsely credited with coining gulosity, even though evidence for the word’s use dates back to the 15th century. According to his biographer, James Boswell, Johnson was no light eater himself: he “indulged with such intenseness, that while in the act of eating, the veins of his forehead swelled, and generally a strong perspiration was visible.” – from www.merriam-webster.com

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gelid

adjective \JELL-id\

: extremely cold : icy

Did You Know?

Gelid first appeared in English late in the 16th century, coming to our language from Latin gelidus, which ultimately derives from the noun gelu, meaning “frost” or “cold.” (The noun gelatin, which can refer to an edible jelly that undergoes a cooling process as part of its formation, comes from a related Latin word: gelare, meaning “to freeze.”) Gelid is used to describe anything of extremely cold temperature (as in “the gelid waters of the Arctic Ocean”), but the word can also be used figuratively to describe a person with a cold demeanor (as in “the criminal’s gelid stare”). Read more here: www.Merriam-Webster.com

Quote & Word of the Week Word of the Week

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convalesce

verb \kahn-vuh-LESS\

: to recover health and strength gradually after sickness or weakness

Did You Know?

When you convalesce, you heal or grow strong after illness or injury, often by staying off your feet. The related adjective convalescent means “recovering from sickness or debility,” and a convalescent home is a hospital for long-term recuperation and rehabilitation. Convalesce derives from the Latin verb convalescere, which combines the prefix com- (“with, together, jointly”) with the verb valescere (“to grow strong”). Valescere, in turn, is related to the verb valēre (“to be strong or be well”), which is also an ancestor of prevail, valor, value, and valid. – from Merriam-Webster.com

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idiopathic

adjective \id-ee-uh-PATH-ik\

1 : arising spontaneously or from an obscure or unknown cause : primary

2 : peculiar to the individual

Did You Know?

Idiopathic joins the combining form idio- (from Greek idios, meaning “one’s own” or “private”) with -pathic, a form that suggests the effects of disease. The combining form idio- is typically found in technical terms. Examples include idiographic, meaning “relating to or dealing with something concrete, individual, or unique”; idiolect, meaning “the language or speech pattern of one individual at a particular period of life”; and idiotype, meaning “the molecular structure and conformation of an antibody that confers its antigenic specificity.” A more common idio- word is idiosyncrasy, which most commonly refers to an unusual way in which a person behaves or thinks, or to an unusual part or feature of something.

Examples

“Konnikova is a popular psychology writer…. Her interest was sparked by the unfairness of life—idiopathic illness striking at random, her husband’s start-up failing, and so on.” — Hermione Eyre, The Spectator, 27 June 2020

“There are a number of reports of individuals who have developed an idiopathic (unexplained) inability to sweat during military and extreme training.” — Adam Taylor, The Independent (UK), 19 Nov. 2019

– from Merriam-Webster.com

Flora of Covington

Flora of Covington: the Pecan Tree, a Southern Tradition

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by Chelsea Cochrane

Pecan tree orchard with autumn leaves

The pecan tree (Carya illinoinensis) is a species of hickory native to the Mississippi River region and into northern Mexico. These majestic trees can grow 100 – 140 feet tall and can live as long as 300 years. Many old and young trees can be spotted in the Covington area, some remnants of the vast pecan groves and orchards that once speckled the South.

Its not an event without mini pecan pies!

Pecans are certainly a staple of southern living, a necessity in several baking recipes and an all-around healthy snack. Texas named the pecan the state’s official “health nut”, as well as the state tree, and pecan pie the state’s official pie. They’re a little nuts about pecans, but they’re not the only ones – the pecan is also the state nut of Arkansas and Alabama, and one of California’s four state nuts (don’t even talk to them about nuts). There’s a reason everyone loves pecans – besides being delicious, they’re good for you too, benefiting blood cholesterol levels, rich in vitamins, and containing high levels of antioxidants.

To see what all the hype is about, you’ll have to understand that pecans once played a large role in southern economics, and are still a major trade today. The only edible major tree nut native to North America, its use can be traced back to 16th century Native American cultivation and trade. The name “pecan” comes from the Algonquin word “pacane” meaning “nuts requiring a stone to crack”. Pecans became a large part of Native culture and were even used as a form of currency for a time.

Pecans are among the most recently domesticated major crops, first cultivated commercially in the 1840’s here in Louisiana. A black slave by the name of Antoine at the Oak Alley Plantation was the first to successfully graft a wild cultivar, creating an improved variety for propagation and thus budding the pecan industry. Pecans quickly grew in popularity and spread across the nation, from coast to coast and as far east as New York. To this day the US is still the largest producer of pecans, boasting 300 million pounds per year.

From the USDA: “Almonds and pecans are the major tree nut crops produced in the United States, followed by pistachios and walnuts. More than 98 percent of the acreage in almonds, pistachios, and walnuts is found in California. Seventy-four percent of the pecan tree acreage is in three states — Texas, Oklahoma and Georgia. The pecan acreage includes both native and improved tree varieties. The 2007 Census of Agriculture shows there are 1.86 million acres of tree nuts in the United States.”

from the USDA’s 2007 Census of Agriculture

Pecans aren’t actually nuts

Still green “fruit” of the pecan tree

Not to burst anyone’s bubble (especially Texas) but the pecan is not actually a nut. Often classified in the somewhat indistinct realm of “edible nuts”, pecans join pistachios, cashews, almonds and walnuts in the also hazy “drupe” or stone fruit classification. This distinction is made because unlike true nuts that contain both the fruit and the seed of the plant, drupes are fruit containing a hard-shelled seed within. Apricots, peaches, plums and cherries are also examples of drupes, just ones where we eat the fruit rather than the seed! The lines between classifying drupes and berries gets a little fuzzier, and has caused some arguments and long-standing grudges in the scientific community. Isn’t botany fun?

Pecans in Covington

Pecans can adapt to a variety of environments but thrive in full sun, warmer climates and sandy well-drained soil, making the Mississippi and adjoining rivers an ideal habitat. The Port of New Orleans became the main exporter of these southern-loving trees, whose soft wood also gained popularity in fine furniture making and in cooking, as a flavor enhancer for smoked meats like other types of hickory. Pecan orchards and maintained groves began popping up everywhere in the south.

Many older Covington natives can remember large groves of pecans along the river and around Claiborne Hill. The Alexius family owned a track of land on Three Rivers Road dubbed “Alexiusville” that was home to vast pecan groves as well. If you look around downtown you will find some magnificent older trees that are still producing. You may even have one in your backyard!

Caring for your Pecan Tree

If you are lucky enough to have one of these big beauties then you know one tree can provide an incredible amount of fruit. Pecans are slow to produce, often taking 10 – 15 years to mature from seedling. A single pecan tree in its 10th growing season can produce 50 lbs, while a more mature tree into its 15th season or more can drop over 100 lbs of pecans! Most of these will be eaten by squirrels however, if you aren’t quick.

Many variety are alternate-bearing, meaning that they will produce heavily one year and then very little the next year, or in some cases next several years. This can be helped sometimes with extra fertilizing. Trees will deplete much more nutrients on heavy-bearing years and need time to catch back up. Zinc is a common additive to help pecans produce a strong harvest.

photo by Carol M Highsmith of Texas pecan farmer

Learn more about pecans at the National Pecan Shellers Association’s website ilovepecans.org!

General

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Happy Valentine's DayValentine’s Day, observed on February 14, began as a liturgical celebration of one or more Christian saints named Velentinus.  The holiday became associated with romantic love in the literary circles of Chaucer during the High Middle Ages, with the tradition of courtly love.   The holiday evolved into  the presentation of cut flowers, confectionaries and greeting cards, or valentines, in 18th century England.