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cicada song and una sonrisa hermosa

At night the katydids have taken up their song, and in the day there are cicadas. Let me tiptoe past an observation about the waning of the summer...

About those cicadas. Their sheeny noise, especially on a humid day like today, gives me an impression that they're burnishing the air the way potters can burnish bowls or weavers can burnish cloth. The air on humid days is like finest shining mist curtains, and the cicadas polish it with their song.

I missed my chance this summer to take a Spanish course through the local university's continuing ed program, so I'm trying to learn some on Duolingo. I mentioned this to one of my students at the jail, whose first language is Spanish, and yesterday she took it upon herself to teach me some things. I loved it. She taught me una sonrisa hermosa / a beautiful smile

What a beautiful word sonrisa is! So I was practicing some sentences, and the head of programs came in to fix our clock, and I got hugely embarrassed and said, "I promise I'm not exploiting my students to learn Spanish! We are doing essay work too!" (<--admitting the thing I feel guilty about), but she is so wonderful and cool that she just said, "I think it's wonderful. You go ahead."

... We did do some essay stuff too, though: honest.


( 43 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 13th, 2016 03:29 pm (UTC)
También me encantan las chicharras. Siempre me hacen sonreir :)
Aug. 13th, 2016 03:34 pm (UTC)
Siempre me hacen sonreir

I want to add this phrase to my meager Spanish word hoard. Beautiful. Thank you!!
Aug. 13th, 2016 03:53 pm (UTC)
Good formula ;)
Aug. 13th, 2016 03:41 pm (UTC)
I must imagine it was good for the student's self esteem to be able to teach the teacher something!
Aug. 13th, 2016 03:47 pm (UTC)
Yeah! And everybody has something to teach others.
Aug. 13th, 2016 03:52 pm (UTC)
How wonderful! That's great that your student could teach you in return. :)

How much summer do you have left? When will it start cooling off for you? And the leaves turn?
Aug. 13th, 2016 04:11 pm (UTC)
It can still be summerlike in feel into September, but the types of flowers that are in bloom and the way the landscape looks, plus the way the days go (the light) make it clear that autumn's on its way.

This year is drought-y, so I don't know what the leaves will do, but usually they are bright with colors in October.
Aug. 13th, 2016 04:34 pm (UTC)
Their sheeny noise, especially on a humid day like today, gives me an impression that they're burnishing the air the way potters can burnish bowls or weavers can burnish cloth.

That's a lovely image.
Aug. 13th, 2016 05:06 pm (UTC)
Thank you--I always think "sheen" when I hear cicadas. I suppose it's partly because the word sounds like their sound.
Aug. 13th, 2016 04:52 pm (UTC)
As you say, it's not autumn yet, but the first hints of it are appearing. I've just posted a photo of some rowan berries and the blackberries are beginning to ripen.

We don't have cicadas, of course, though earlier this summer when we had a bit of hot weather, I did discover that we had grasshoppers in the back garden.
Aug. 13th, 2016 05:07 pm (UTC)
The English season and the New England one never quite match up--some things happen earlier and last longer (spring flowers, for instance) for you, and yet other things happen around the same time, like the blackberries.
Aug. 13th, 2016 05:31 pm (UTC)
Oh, I love the image of the cicadas burnishing the air with their song...

No cicadas here, but the Dorset grasshoppers are making the yellow August grass drier and scratchier with their songs.
Aug. 14th, 2016 12:43 am (UTC)
The grasshoppers are in tune with the season, or the season is in tune with the grasshoppers--one or the other!
Aug. 13th, 2016 09:49 pm (UTC)
I saw this on Tumblr: How did people first figure out that it was cicadas that make this noise? I could see that taking a long time. Were there just like a thousand years where people were like “yeah, the trees are screaming. They do that in the summer.

Sonrisa and sorriso must be related.

Butterfly in the romance languages is farfilla, papillon, papallona, mariposa, fluture, borboleta, mariavolavola.
I just find it interesting how they're all different from one another. Except for papallona.
Aug. 13th, 2016 11:57 pm (UTC)
Were there just like a thousand years where people were like “yeah, the trees are screaming. They do that in the summer.

That's hilarious--I'm going to laugh each time I hear them, now.

Actually later in the afternoon, there was a huge thunderhead in the sky over a hillside, and for a moment I thought the cicadas in the trees was electricity I was hearing in the clouds--the way you can hear high-tension wires.

What's the sixth romance language. I know Italian (farfilla), French (papillon), Spanish (mariposa), and I know there's also Portuguese and Romanian (so I assume two of the remaining ones are that. But what's the last? Catalan?
Aug. 14th, 2016 12:50 am (UTC)
Aug. 16th, 2016 12:46 pm (UTC)
Is that the same of Romany?
Aug. 17th, 2016 05:40 pm (UTC)
No, it's one of the official languages of Switzerland, and it's romance, and that concludes my knowledge of it.
Aug. 17th, 2016 05:52 pm (UTC)
There are more romance languages kicking around than initially meet the eye!
Aug. 14th, 2016 02:04 am (UTC)
Yep, it's Catalan. I couldn't find the Occitan translation.

Fluture is Romanian and Borboleta is Portuguese.
Aug. 13th, 2016 11:49 pm (UTC)

I'm not fond of the sound of cicadas. The sound is too shrill, and high-pitched sounds tend to cause me pain. One of the side benefits of growing older is that they cause me less pain, now. But, I can still understand loving the sound, and your description made me smile.

As a tutor, I think you did exactly the right thing in sharing your attempt to learn Spanish with your student, and in giving her the opportunity to teach you. It's not just a boost to her self esteem, but a chance to connect on a very human level. She will be better able to identify with you, and you with her, and that should pay off in numerous ways.

I'm also using Duolingo as a way to brush up on my very rusty Spanish, btw. :)

Aug. 14th, 2016 12:00 am (UTC)
I'm also using Duolingo as a way to brush up on my very rusty Spanish, btw. :) --Yay! Then we're both enjoying sentences like "Los pajaros leen el diario" ("The birds read the newspaper") which move into surreal territory.
Aug. 14th, 2016 12:52 am (UTC)
Yes, fancy a world where we all eagerly learn from and with each other, fascinated by the subjects of our prior investigations.

And everyone imprisoned I've ever known has had plenty of experience being on the downside of power relationships, and can use a change of those paradigms.
Aug. 16th, 2016 12:47 pm (UTC)
I very much want to live in the world you suggest we imagine..
Aug. 16th, 2016 02:09 pm (UTC)
Ah, I think it's what Jesus is getting at in his parables of the Kingdom. And I think that the only way to have it "on earth as it is in heaven" is to be an undocumented immigrant into this world, bringing the customs of that place-- though they are misunderstood, mistrusted, and often feared. Which makes it frustrating. And of course we can't bring that culture without error or without syncretism.

But I think it's still the best game in town, and each of us with a lifetime to play it....
Aug. 16th, 2016 02:16 pm (UTC)
I think it's still the best game in town, and each of us with a lifetime to play it

Lovely way of putting it. Do you remember the movie Wargames? In it a high-school-aged hacker accidentally hacks into Norad and triggers a wargaming program that is being mistaken as real. He finally gets the computer to give up the wargame by having it play out all the possible scenarios--they all end in total destruction. The computer says something like "Strange game. The only way to win is not to play."

This long-winded story is just to say that your quote here is the opposite. "Wonderful game. The only way to play is to devote your life to it. " (paraphrasing ^_^)
Aug. 14th, 2016 12:13 am (UTC)

Yes! And I was taken aback by "El cangrejo come pajaros," and "Los caballos beben leche." Later lessons are rarely as surreal, sadly.

Aug. 16th, 2016 12:50 pm (UTC)
Yes! That first one especially!

I haven't yet advanced very far, but I'm still finding them, if not surreal, at least suggestive of stories. "Tengo mis propios perros" seems... I don't know, like you're being outfitted for an expedition and are mentioning that you already have your own dogs, so you don't need to rent any, or something. And "Que es imposible?" is a pretty metaphysical question!
Aug. 16th, 2016 03:46 pm (UTC)

You are getting sentences I don't remember seeing. Perhaps, since I am using this as a refresher, I am moving forward too quickly and missing these. ¿Que es imposible?, indeed.

¿Que es posible?

Es posible que hay cangrejos que comen los pájaros.


Yes. It happens. It is rough.


Aug. 16th, 2016 03:49 pm (UTC)
Cangrejos too! My sentence, I realize, had arañas. That, too, happens: big spiders, small birds.

Nature can be pretty fierce!
Aug. 16th, 2016 05:14 pm (UTC)

Sí, verdad.  (Yes, it's the truth.)

Pero, que más es posible?

Es posible para nosotrotos hacemos muchas cosas que nunca pensamos que podríamos. (It is possible for us to do much more than we ever thought we could.)

También es posible que las hadas viven entre nosotros, no reconocido. O, extranjeros . (It is also possible that the fair folk [well, technically the fairies] live among us, unrecognized. Or, aliens.)

ETA: I am cheating,  and looking things up on Google translate. Although, I am discovering I actually recognize all the words. Grammar, on the other hand, often eludes me.

Edited at 2016-08-16 05:17 pm (UTC)
Aug. 17th, 2016 02:46 am (UTC)
Also, I may have misremembered the sentence and replaced arañas with cangrejos.
Aug. 19th, 2016 12:45 pm (UTC)
Either way--Duolingo keeps it exciting.
Aug. 14th, 2016 04:24 am (UTC)

I get children's magazines and Hoghlights High Five always carries a story with some Spanish sentences with a pronounciation key. I always enjoy it.

Aug. 16th, 2016 12:50 pm (UTC)
That's wonderful!

I was surprised how many random words and phrases I'd learned as a kid through Sesame Street.
Aug. 15th, 2016 01:55 pm (UTC)
We're going on hols to France on Friday, and my mil is saying that summer is over. She's been saying that for about a month now. ;) But Indian Summers are relatively common where she lives. Either way, I'm going to love it. :P
Aug. 16th, 2016 12:51 pm (UTC)
I know you will!
Aug. 16th, 2016 02:05 pm (UTC)
The only "bad" thing is that it is going to be yet another vacation where we drive, drive, drive. Not going to be able to relax much. Prayers said and fingers crossed that we find a home this time.

And I wanted to say about cicadas, I always associate them with liquid air. You know that mirage effect on long straight roads? Seems like the air always looks/feels like that when I hear cicadas. Definitely sheeny and burnish-able. :P
Aug. 16th, 2016 02:08 pm (UTC)
liquid air! Yes, exactly. And yes, I love that mirage effect.

Saying prayers--also will send an email.
Aug. 16th, 2016 04:21 am (UTC)
I love that! - "burnishing the air". :)
Though it's probably a carryover from my bedtime listening (The White Company) that my mind didn't stay with the bowls, but jumped to a squire/squires burnishing a blade/blade. Though it jumped to golden colours, too, and I don't know that you can have a copper blade... well, they must have had bronze ones, but I don't know if/how they were burnished. anyway, I love that idea! :)
Aug. 16th, 2016 12:52 pm (UTC)
I think you can definitely have ceremonial bronze blades--in fact, I think maybe people used to actually use them, before they started working iron.

My mother-in-law had a copper bowl for beating egg whites in (somehow its being copper was meant to help the process). It was burnished and beautiful.
Aug. 16th, 2016 05:00 pm (UTC)
I was skimming the top posts on the main page and the title caught my attention. I just wanted to say what a lovely piece that was about cicada song. I've never thought of their song as a sheen before, but it's perfect and I think maybe I'll always think of that now.
Aug. 16th, 2016 05:02 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much for stopping by to say so! That makes my day ♥
( 43 comments — Leave a comment )

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