Words from Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

Weeks ago: friend Jon and I walk up 2nd Avenue, and I tell him of a fantasy I have of moving to the woods. Walden comes up, and I say I had difficulty reading it. He recommends Annie Dillard’s Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, saying it holds more relevance to our generation since it’s more contemporary.

Today, I haven’t finished it even though I enjoyed it well enough. The book contains lots of vocabulary I didn’t know – perhaps one of the reasons why I slowed with reading. Anyway, here are some words I learned while reading.


insouciant

Definition:

casual: marked by blithe unconcern

Her Usage:

I had just rounded a corner when [the falling bird’s] insouciant step caught my eye


sere

Definition:

dried-up: (used especially of vegetation) having lost all moisture

Her Usage:

I couldn’t see whether that sere rustle I heard was a distant rattlesnake, slit-eyed, or a nearby sparrow kicking in the dry flood debris slung at the foot of a willow


bivouac

Definition:

camp: temporary living quarters specially built by the army for soldiers

Her Usage:

No culture explains, no bivouac offers real haven or rest.


sonant

Definition:

a speech sound accompanied by sound from the vocal cords

surd

Definition:

a consonant produced without sound from the vocal cords

Her Usage:

The wind shrieks and hisses down the valley, sonant and surd, drying the puddles and dismantling the nests from the trees


hummock

Definition:

knoll: a small natural hill

Her Usage:

the ridges bosses and hummocks sprout bulging from its side


eidetic

Definition:

of visual imagery of almost photographic accuracy

Her Usage:

But there is more to the present than a series of snapshots. We are not merely sensitized film; we have feelings, a memory for information, and an eidetic memory for the imagery of our own pasts


frangible

Definition (from wikipedia):

A material is said to be frangible if through deformation it tends to break up into fragments, rather than deforming plastically and retaining its cohesion as a single object

Her Usage:

because a sycamore’s primitive bark is not elastic but frangible, it sheds continously as it grows


memento mori

Definition (also wikipedia):

Latin for, “Remember you must die”

Her Usage:

That, I wanted to say as I recognized the prize she held, is memento mori for people who read too much.


susurrus

Definition:

susurration: the indistinct sound of people whispering; “a soft susurrus of conversation”

Her Usage:

I never merited this grace, that when I face upstream I scent the virgin breath of mountains, I feel a spray of mist on my cheeks and lips, I hear a ceaseless splash and susurrus, a sound of water not merely poured smoothly down air to fill a steady pool, but tumbling live about, over, under, around, between, through an intricate speckling of rock.


lambent

Definition:

softly bright or radiant

Usage:

the leaf was so thin and etiolated it was translucent, but at the same time it was lambent, minutely, with a kind of pale and sufficient light

This entry was posted in Writings and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.