Reflections from the Swamp
Richard van Duyvendyk

Dear readers,

Welcome to the long-awaited Spring!

Every Spring arrives uniquely, like models appearing with new fashions on the runway, or fresh new children’s art taped on the fridge, or long-absent birds welcomed back to the birdfeeders.

Spring was not cancelled this year because of the Coronavirus. In our isolation, we have found new friends and acquaintances in the nature that surrounds us. The geese have returned, jubilant as ever, trying to spot a break in the ice on the pond. The male red-winged blackbirds have staked out their sites like the Klondikers during the gold rush. Their songs sound melodic, but, in blackbird speak, they’re telling all other blackbirds to stay the hell off of their property! I think of them being like those signs in rural Lanark that say, “Back off Government!” In the budding world, the pussy willows like to be first and open up long before the other buds in the woods. Like all first placers, they show off their fuzzy ribbons. The creek, long silent under ice and snow, is aching to burst into life. Tulips stir in the warm earth beneath our feet on the south side of the house.

Years ago, I attended a cattle auction. I inadvertently scratched my nose and became the proud owner of a pregnant cow with a calf. Calves in Spring embody the essence of joy, freedom, and the euphoric feeling of release from the prison of winter. When we boil down the memories of our cattle, as we would a kettle of maple sap, we are left with the sweet image of a calf let out of the barn after months of winter confinement. No word accurately describes the interruptive dance of a calf moments after being released from the confines of a winter’s barn.

Being free of the fetters of winter is an experience familiar to most Canadians when Spring finally comes. Winter, unlike so many other places with milder climates, defines us. We need a word tailored to our Canadian experience of the jubilance of Spring that captures that feeling exhibited by a boisterous calf bouncing across the meadow.

I found the Russian word for freedom in searching for words, ‘Svoboda,’ which I like because Russians are among those who have a similar experience to our own when Spring finally arrives. The Latinos, famous for pasta, lively temperaments, and offering root words for English, suggest us, Bos Taurus, which includes all domestic cattle, including calves.

The new word we are invited to add to our dictionaries could be ‘taurusoboda’ from the root svoboda  bos_taurus. It’s rare to create new words from two different root languages, but hey, we’re Canadian and have a rich source of multiple languages to choose from.

To use the word taurusoboda in a sentence, consider the following examples;

After sitting on the couch for five months watching Jeopardy, Delmar, filled with taurussoboda, pranced through the yard and sang melodiously to the birds sitting in the trees. Gloria stripped off her winter coat, took off her socks and shoes and, with taurussoboda, passionately dug her toes into the moist, fertile soil, feeling one with Mother Earth for the first time in months. The tulips sensing that their covering of snow had melted, were filled with taurussoboda and burst through the leave litter, heralding to all their colourful salute to Spring.

What do you think? A good word for that unique feeling of first Spring?

Do you have an example of taurussoboda?

I have to go. I’m afflicted with taurussoboda and have to get outside. I’m living vicariously through the creek as it flows. Each day Coady Creek surprises itself as it unfolds, rushing through the culverts, making a break for the low lying fields, and now flooding the driveway. I want to live with the same widening horizons, making my small pond turn into a lake filled with creativity and hope. Who knows where these new streams of consciousness will flow when we allow the ice that hems us in to break.

Best wishes

Ritz