A Word Order Conundrum

“Word Order Conundrum” Title Card, 28 September 2019. Copyright 2019 Forgotten Fields. All rights reserved.

I find myself, presently, saddled with the odd conundrum of the order in which to arrange the words “sombre”, “solemn” and “slow” in a line. “Slow” is easy, it is the rhyming element of the line and therefore must come last, but its companions are deliberately so similar in construction and pronunciation that they are interchangeable.

This is an annoyance to a pedant who wants a rationale for all things.

Of course, the purpose here is the similarity and, therefore, interchangeability—perhaps I should look to visual alliteration for the answer: “ol” in “solemn” appears reversed in “slow” and thus “Solemn, sombre and slow” is aesthetically most pleasing—but what a pity there is no linguistic rule (that I know) that specifically here applies!

A Sunbird in the Blossoms

A Sunbird in the Blossoms, 26 September 2019. Copyright 2019 Forgotten Fields. All rights reserved.

© 2019 Forgotten Fields

The South African spring brings blossoms and sunbirds to the garden. Surprisingly forgiving of my intrusion, they permit me to come within less than a metre (four feet) of their presence, allowing me to capture photographs like this one.

This is a Southern Double-collared Sunbird (Cinnyris chalybeus) male, named for the bright red and blue (not obvious here) bands upon its chest. Its Afrikaans name, Klein-rooibandsuikerbekkie1, translates to “little-redbandsugarbeak”.

  1. Pronounced [cleyn–Roowaybunt–soykeRbecky] with a trilled [RRR].

How Many Sheep?

Mist on the Mountain, 8 December 2017. Copyright 2017 Forgotten Fields. All rights reserved.
The sight that gave rise to the “Mist from the Mountains” esquisse. (Taken 8 December 2017)

As I develop “Mist from the Mountains”, my mother’s time as a little shepherd is of great interest to me:

“How high up the mountain did you watch the sheep as a girl?”

“High. Do you see that fold between the peaks? The kraal1 was just over the ridge.”

“How many sheep?”

“I cannot recall…”




“Hum, we must have had about twenty; then Uncle Mike would throw in his flock—so, about forty sheep.”
  1. Afrikaans, pronounced [kRaahl] with a trilled [RRR]: a pen, in this instance, for the enclosure of sheep.