The Power of Words in Nature
The theme for our winter collection 'The Lost Words', pays homage to the words quietly disappearing from children's dictionaries; Blackberry, Conker, Dandelion. These words are being taken out to make way for more ‘relevant’ terminology such as “Block-graph” and “Chatroom”; words “associated with the increasingly interior, solitary childhoods of today” ~ Margaret Atwood.
In a world where time spent in nature is declining so alarmingly (in a study released by the Office for National Statistics, on average children in the UK spend 16 minutes a day outdoors), words borne in nature play a critical role. Words have the power to conjure up the mighty universe, from the delicate simplicity and incomparable colour of the beautiful “Bluebell”, to the Scottish term for fast-moving storm clouds “Roarie Bummlers”.
Töastie has one eternal quest, which is to reunite children with nature, where they truly belong. We can all play our part and whilst we cannot influence the Oxford Children’s Dictionary to wind back the clocks, we can keep words that help to shape children’s understanding of the natural world alive and relevant. “We do not care for what we do not know, and on the whole we do not know what we cannot name. Do we want an alphabet for children that begins ‘A is for Acorn, B is for Buttercup, C is for Conker’; or one that begins ‘A is for Attachment, B is for Block-Graph, C is for Chatroom’?”
~ Robert Macfarlane
In a nutshell (with no pun intended of course), words are amazing. Referred to as ‘the most powerful thing in the universe’, for this blog post we have combined words with the other powerful force that is Mother Nature. For fellow nature lovers we have curated a list of our favourite words and phrases that describe the things in nature that are often difficult to put your finger on, as well as their origins… kudos if you recognise any of them!
All of these words appear in Robert Macfarlane’s Landmarks, a collection of words used across America, England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales – some of which have been long forgotten – to describe natural scenery.
“…Although we have fabulous compendia of flora, fauna and insects (Richard Mabey's Flora Britannica and Mark Cocker's Birds Britannica chief among them), we lack a Terra Britannica, as it were: a gathering of terms for the land and its weathers—terms used by crofters, fishermen, farmers, sailors, scientists, miners, climbers, soldiers, shepherds, poets, walkers and unrecorded others for whom particularised ways of describing place have been vital to everyday practice and perception.” ~ Robert Macfarlane, The Guardian
Turn this list into an exciting and educational experience for little ones to expand both their vocabulary and love of the great outdoors. To help you out we have matched the perfect TÖASTIE product to each natural scenario that these beautiful words describe.
Petrichor - pet-ree-kor (scientific) - We had to begin with our favourite word that describes one of the best natural aromas the Earth has to offer. This one you may have heard of, and it describes that distinct smell in the air that follows rainfall. It presents itself as particularly strong after a phase of warm and dry weather. We advise always taking time to step outside and take a deep breath of it in when skies clear. Our Töastie light raincoats are the perfect accessory to enjoying petrichor, in case another light shower appears on the horizon.
Airie – air-ree (Caithness) Gentle breath of wind
We love this word as its onomatopoeia makes it an easy one to remember, especially for little ones! We decided that our reversible gilet is the perfect accompaniment to this venture into a springtime breeze.
Achram – ack-ram (Irish)
Very heavy rain (literally, "boisterous behaviour”)
We love the direct translation of this word from the lovely Irish language as ‘boisterous behaviour’ because it encapsulates perfectly the kind of storm that stirs up boisterous behaviour to those caught in it. For maximum enjoyment with ultimate protection from dancing in such rain we recommend our 3-in-1 Töastie Raincoat.
Feetings – feet-ings (Suffolk)
Footprints of creatures as they appear in the snow
We absolutely love this little word – again it is so simple for little ones to remember and makes for a fun adventure in a search to find them! We have the perfect Töastie garment to pair with this word and help with the identification of Feetings – check out our Animal Tracks sweatshirt!
Roarie bummlers (Scottish)
Fast-moving storm clouds
We have to admit, this one made us giggle a little which is why we had to include it. We know that little ones will love the excuse to shout a word like ‘bummlers’ when they see those storm clouds rolling in! Dress them up in our Töastie EcoReversible Puffer for the best protection to run with the rumbling storms!
Trunnel (English regional)
A road or path where, in summer, the leaves of trees on both sides form a canopy
Töastie recommends running straight through the middle of a trunnel
should you happen upon one when exploring out in the wild. Another little English lesson for you here in that this is an example of a portmanteau
word, also called blend, which is a word that results from blending two or more words, or parts of words, such that the portmanteau word expresses some combination of the meaning of its parts, making it an easy one to remember. Tree + Tunnel = TRUNNEL! Amazing right? If you do find yourselves amongst this natural phenomenon please do send us your pictures!
Words sourced from an article written by Tonya Thompson for Service Escape 2019