Autumn and a Cat with Gamboge Eyes

gamboge. autumn @PatFurstenberg

If you’re lucky you get to witness Autumn capturing the last heat of the summer’s sun in its deep yellow leaves.
Gamboge canopy.
Powdery like saffron, spicy like mustard.

Autumn. A gamboge canopy. @PatFurstenberg
Gamboge canopy

Dressed-up in her best sepia, with eyes of mustard gamboge, the cat thought of herself as one of Autumn’s leaves as she purred among amber and crimson.
Now… the bird will come.

Cat with gamboge eyes between autumn leaves. @PatFurstenberg
Cat with gamboge eyes between autumn leaves

Gamboge fills up my mouth when I say it. So fitting to describe autumn’s vivid yellows!

Gamboge arrived to us from Latin gambogium. It most probably has ties with the gum resin extracted from trees and used as a yellow pigment in art, trees of southeast Asia. Initially, the resin is orange-brown, but it becomes bright yellow when turned to powder.

Yes, gamboge, also spelled camboge, is family with the noun cambugium, most probably deriving from Camboja, the word Portuguese seafarers used for Cambodia in 1600. Cambodia is one of the countries where the trees producing gamboge are indigenous.

Masterful use of gamboge in art: Rembrandt’s portrait of his beloved wife Saskia van Uylenburgh as Goddess Flora, 1634.

Masterful use of gamboge in art: Rembrandt's portrait of his beloved wife Saskia van Uylenburgh as Goddess Flora, 1634
Masterful use of gamboge in art: Rembrandt’s portrait of his beloved wife Saskia van Uylenburgh as Goddess Flora, 1634
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Feuille-Morte and A Nightingale in Autumn

Autumn is splashing out its colors, giving away her best dead leaves, feuilles mortes. If I would describe Fall to you as the season with brownish-orange dry leaves, would I get your attention?

Feuille-morte

Dead leaves, dry leaves, faded, brownish-yellow.
Boring.

Feuille morte, sun’s promise captured in amber.
The spicy scent of cinnamon steaming from childhood’s pumpkin pies. Crunching in my mouth to the cadence of feuille mortes underneath my feet.
Autumn.

Feuilles-mortes, dead leaves, autumn colors
Feuilles-mortes, dead leaves, autumn colors

Nightingale in Autumn

Masked by a philamot leaf,
Its faded hue a match for the grey plumage
Of the Philomela perched behind, on a twig –
Or was she hiding, aware of her tune, a heavenly image?

@PatFurstenberg
Philamot color, Philomela - Nightingale, in Autumn
Philamot color, Philomela – Nightingale, in Autumn

Philamot, sometimes spelled philomot, is another word describing autumn’s yellow-brown foliage (feuille).

I hope you will return to my blog for more autumn colors and words.

Speaking of words and seasons, you might like to sneak a peek inside my Christmas Haiku book:

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20 Afrikaans words with interesting English literal translations via @PatFurstenberg

Afrikaans to English translation - compound words meaning

When learning a new language, some of the issues we encounter are translating those crafty closed compound words – combinations of two or more words that function as a single unit and mean something different than the individual words they are built with.A

  1. Aasvoël

Direct translation: bait bird

Actual meaning: vulture

Aasvoël  - bait bird - vulture
Aasvoël – bait bird – vulture

2. Jagluiperd

Direct translation: Hunting lazy horse

Actual meaning: cheetah

Jagluiperd - lazy horse - cheetah
Jagluiperd – lazy horse – cheetah

3. Keelvol

Direct translation: full throat

Actual meaning: sick of it all

Keelvol - full throat - sick of it all
Keelvol – full throat – sick of it all

4. Knormoer

Direct translation: Growl nut

Actual meaning: starter motor

Knormoer - Growl nut - starter motor
Knormoer – Growl nut – starter motor

5. Klapkassie

Direct translation: Little Flap cupboard

Actual meaning: cubby hole

Klapkassie - Little Flap cupboard - cubby hole
Klapkassie – Little Flap cupboard – cubby hole

6. Kameelperd

Direct translation: Camel horse

Actual meaning: Giraffe

Kameelperd - Camel horse - Giraffe
Kameelperd – Camel horse – Giraffe

7. Kattekwaad

Direct translation: Cats mischief

Actual meaning: getting up to no good

Kattekwaad - Cats mischief - getting up to no good
Kattekwaad – Cats mischief – getting up to no good

8. Koggelmannetjie

Direct translation: teasing little man

Actual meaning: a male rock lizard

Koggelmannetjie - teasing little man - a male rock lizard
Koggelmannetjie – teasing little man – a male rock lizard

9. Luiperd

Direct translation: Lazy horse

Actual meaning: Leopard

Luiperd - Lazy horse - Leopard
Luiperd – Lazy horse – Leopard

10. Laatlammetjie

Direct translation: late lamb

Actual meaning: a child born many years after its siblings

Laatlammetjie - late lamb - a child born many years after its siblings
Laatlammetjie – late lamb – a child born many years after its siblings

11. Padkos

Direct translation: road food

Actual meaning: Southern African snacks and provisions for a journey

padkos - road food - Southern African snacks and provisions for a journey
padkos – road food – Southern African snacks and provisions for a journey

12. Perdeby

Direct translation: horse fly

Actual meaning: wasp

perdeby - horse fly - wasp
perdeby – horse fly – wasp

13. Pletterpet

Direct translation: falling hat

Actual meaning: helmet

Pletterpet - falling hat - helmet
Pletterpet – falling hat – helmet

14. Papier vampier

Direct translation: paper vampire

Actual meaning: stapler

Papier vampier - paper vampire - stapler
Papier vampier – paper vampire – stapler

15. Springmielies

Direct translation: Jumping corn

Actual meaning: popcorn

Springmielies - Jumping corn - popcorn
Springmielies – Jumping corn – popcorn

16. Trapsuutjie

Direct translation: step softly

Actual meaning: chameleon

Trapsuutjie - step softly - chameleon
Trapsuutjie – step softly – chameleon

17. Verkykers

Direct translation: far lookers

Actual meaning: binoculars

Verkykers - far lookers - binoculars
Verkykers – far lookers – binoculars

18. Vergrootglas

Direct translation: making big glass

Actual meaning: magnifying glass

Vergrootglas - making big glass - magnifying glass
Vergrootglas – making big glass – magnifying glass

19. Windmeulvliegtuig

Direct translation: wind mill flying plane

Actual meaning: helicopter

Windmeulvliegtuig - wind mill flying plane - helicopter
Windmeulvliegtuig – wind mill flying plane – helicopter

20. Ystervark

Direct translation: iron pig

Actual meaning: porcupine

Ystervark  - iron pig – porcupine
Ystervark – iron pig – porcupine

Nou in Afrikaans, geliefde kinderboeke:

Die Leeu en die Hond

Die Jagluiperd en die Hond

Die Olifant en die Skaap

You might also enjoy reading:

19 German Compound Words with Surprising Translations: Mammutwörter and the Longest German, English and Welsh Words

 

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