Monday, July 3, 2017

A Painted Lady, and Linguistics

Yesterday was bright and sunny and relatively warm, so I seized the moment and spent the day outside as much as possible. I mowed the lawn in the morning, and then took Olga to Wormwood Scrubs.

There, we found the wild teasels in bloom. These plants are pretty impressive -- they're as tall as I am (about 6 feet) and they produce spiny cones that eventually dry out and turn brown and rattly and last all winter. Each summer brings a new batch of cones, and tiny purple flowers appear in rings that move up and down the cones as the blossoms mature. The bees love them.

As I was photographing them, a woman stopped and chatted me up, asking what they were and whether she could get some for her garden. I told her we bought 3 teasel seedlings through the Royal Horticultural Society, so it's certainly possible. Ours aren't as far along as the ones at the Scrubs, maybe because they get more sun there, in that wide-open meadow environment. But ours should be blooming soon, too.

Also on the nature front, I saw a new (for me) butterfly -- a painted lady. We have lots of orange butterflies flitting around at this time of year -- there are also small tortoiseshells and commas, both of which I've photographed before. (Speaking of commas, I saw one in our garden again yesterday morning, and did I have the camera handy? No.)

Olga loved her walk, as usual, and we even explored an old parking and picnic area, now closed and overgrown with weeds. As many times as I've been to the Scrubs, I've never walked through this particular area before.

Olga got very warm, though, and she was dragging a bit by the time we got back to the train. Then the trains were briefly delayed because there was a freight train sitting on one of the tracks and the conductor couldn't be reached to move it because he was "stuck in traffic." (?) By the time a passenger train was able to get through, it was pretty crowded. On board, I stood next to a British family  -- man, woman and boy -- who spent the trip making fun of the way Americans pronounce certain words. (I hadn't said anything, so they had no idea I was American.)

They mocked our pronunciation of oregano (Americans emphasize the REG, but Brits accent the GAN) and basil, which Americans often pronounce "baysil" rather than "bazzil." They cycled through some others, including depot and leisure.

"And don't even get me started on frosting!" said the boy. (In Britain, it's "icing.")

This was all very amusing, and the woman told about going to Tennessee and being awed at the local accents, but just as she said something about how difficult Americans could be, my stop arrived. Which is probably just as well. Olga and I got off the train and went on our way.


  1. Beautiful photo of that teasel. I remember my Nan had a vase full of dyed teasels, they looked quite nice.

  2. Those look like they would be bee heaven...what do they feel like when you touch them? Has Olga recuperated from the outing? Are you still swollen?

  3. Ah well. We speak the same language but we emphasize different syllables. The least of communication problems it would seem to me.
    Are those wild teasels prickly? They are certainly dramatic.

  4. Teasels grow wild here as well, thought of as weeds, I don't think anyone would intentionally plant them, and in the fall , when they are dry, they are collected - used for teasing out wool, now are found in shops as dried flowers.
    They are not six feet tall , however! That is impressive!

    Yes , Americans-it's all part of our "charm", right? Just like the Orange toddler in the white house, the most obnoxious terror representing this nation. I think that I would try to keep my nationality under my hat as much as possible.

  5. There are two ways to talk about different accents. You can be ignorant and make fun of it or you can learn and broaden your understanding of different places. Just because something is different doesn't mean that it's funny.

  6. I've been watching the Great British Baking Show and I've learned that there are all kinds of different names for things. In fact, I've ordered a scale so that I can start measuring by weight instead of volume. We'll see how that goes.
    I love that photo of the Teasel. I've never seen one bloom before, I only see them dried in arrangements.

  7. it's not only the difference between here and there but same words get pronounced differently over here as well. and that hard to understand accents door swings both ways. I was constantly having to ask people to repeat themselves when I was in Scotland last summer. of course, I have to do that over here. my grandkids talk so fast and my ears just can't keep up.

    that teasel is pretty. haven't seen too many butterflies around here this year.

  8. We have teasel growing all over here on the north coast. It's considered an invasive species here, introduced to US in the 1800s. They are beautiful though, tall and spiky. Interesting bit of conversation on that train.

  9. You should have left that family with a farewell in your best Floridian accent. That would have left them feeling rather bad about their mockery. Mind you, if I had been on that train I might have joined in with them... "And they call a pavement a sidewalk! A sidewalk I tell you! Ha-ha-ha-ha!"

  10. I kind of like Yorkshire Pudding's idea...

  11. I will never forget the time that the British teenager at an embassy gathering asked the American girl if he could "knock her up sometime." !!!

  12. Good grief, my husband and I grew up less than an hour's drive from each other, and just today we discovered that we pronounce "dahlia" differently - so differently, in fact, that my husband didn't know what I was talking about!! Accents, accents ... I love listening to anyone who has a different one from me.

    Olga, you old funny face! Does she smile ALL the time, Steve, or only when you're taking her picture? :)

  13. When I was a kid I used to visit my West Virginia family & the kids in their church used to make me say words so they could laugh at me - pocketbook and rice were particular favorites. Apparently I had QUITE the southern accent as a kid. Ha!