Sunday, September 6, 2009

What's in a Name, part 2?

Half the question is answered.

Ranunculus is the Latin name for the common buttercup. I chose it for multiple reasons.

The word represents my classical Latin education. I took (not studied, unfortunately) Latin for five years, although the sum, retained total of that training can be expressed in the song Barcam Remiga (Row, Row Row Your Boat). I fear it is all I remember.

I will spare you the performance.

Ranunculi are cheery flowers, available in the warm colors of the spectrum. They are found in boggy places, which demonstrates we don't need good surroundings to be chipper. Dreary circumstances can highlight my best qualities, if I so choose.

Ranunculus means little frog. The buttercup was most likely named this because of its preferred habitat. I read a book many years ago about Native American horoscopes and learned I am of the frog clan (that would be water sign for those who follow the Roman tradition). I don't particularly like frogs. I kept one for a short while and found him to be a selfish companion at best and utterly devoted to his stomach. In short, we had a lot in common. It is good to be reminded of flaws, lest my ego require its own plane ticket.

Ranunculus is a fun word to speak. It has a lyric quality, akin to that of a little frog droning on in the twilight. It conjures images of sorcerers and herbs and star charts, of conservatories in crumbling towers and knowledge trapped in thick, leather-bound tomes. At least, it does for me. I cannot say what it conjures for you.

Finally, ranunculi, for all their warm, cheery appearance and poetic applications, are poisonous. They cause blisters and ulcers if eaten. They can even, apparently, kill unwary turtles who follow their stomachs instead of their sense. A useful reminder to keep close.

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