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Just Outside My Door

November 14, 2013
Elaine Cole , Westfield Republican / Mayville Sentinel News

We had a frost last week so there's no more night sounds outside my door unless the wind blows or it rains hard. We had some of that recently and even got our first snow. It came down in beautiful soft flakes, but barely covered the ground, and melted off after a couple days.

As I write today it's raining again. I think our season is going to change and we won't have much of that warmer weather unless we get some "Indian Summer".

Now that it's colder the birds are visiting our feeders more. The blue jays, goldfinches and woodpeckers keep striving against each other for their choice of feeder. It's fun to watch them and I find my self stopping to watch them out the Windows often.

Article Photos

Photo by Elaine Cole
Autum departed Sherman one day last week and winter arrived, bringing a preview of the coming season.

Speaking of birds, did you ever stop to think about how often folk use the name bird, speaking something totally unrelated to a living bird? Well, they do!

Some of us might say we got up with the birds today and flew to work wondering why the old coot in the car ahead of them drove slowly. We talk about a flyer in town and how the boss watches us like a hawk as we mince pigeon-towed between the desks.

At lunch we chicken out on a fellow worker's challenge to take the afternoon off for a round of golf, when we know that if we did that, we could score a birdie or two and maybe an eagle. Sometimes we feel light as a feather and talky as a parrot to our wives and the next day we have to eat crow.

Some will say we get the bird though we don't know that is a British statement that means the goose that hisses when it gets excited. Also we call the cockpit of an airplane, which comes from the pit into which cocks were dropped when two were pitted against each other and the term to show the white feather, comes from cockfighting. It is often said one had a lark last night meaning he had a great time.

The gull has been synonymous with a person easily tricked, cheated, or duped. A pigeon has been underworld slang for "one waiting to be fleeced or plucked" and the stool pigeons are a bird of slightly different feathers. The cock in cocker spaniel comes from the word cock, a small bird.

Other bird words include: hoarse as a crow, sweet as a nightingales, feathers in your cap, crow's nest (of a ship), to crow about, as the crow flies, bird-brain, swansong, one swallow doesn't make a summer, robin's-egg blue, eggshell white, duck soup, night-owl, graceful as a swan, gooseflesh, hawk-eyed, sparrow like, soft as down, dove-tail, ducks and drakes, lame duck, popinjay, one fell swoop, talk like a turkey, roost chicken-hearted and many more. Some of the sayings formerly used are seldom used today.

So you see, one must be careful when they use the word bird that folk understand what they are talking about.



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