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Monday, April 19, 2010

Ashy!!! Wheezy, Sneezy, and Freezy; Slippy, Drippy, and Nippy; Showery, Flowery, and Bowery; Wheaty, Heaty, and Sweety

In 1793, the Laki fissure in Iceland disrupted weather all over the globe, leading to crop shortages and flooding--some environmental historians have linked these disruptions to the onset of the French Revolution (thanks to Patrick for the link):
The British naturalist Gilbert White described that summer in his classic Natural History of Selborne as "an amazing and portentous one … the peculiar haze, or smokey fog, that prevailed for many weeks in this island, and in every part of Europe, and even beyond its limits, was a most extraordinary appearance, unlike anything known within the memory of man.

"The sun, at noon, looked as blank as a clouded moon, and shed a rust-coloured ferruginous light on the ground, and floors of rooms; but was particularly lurid and blood-coloured at rising and setting. At the same time the heat was so intense that butchers' meat could hardly be eaten on the day after it was killed; and the flies swarmed so in the lanes and hedges that they rendered the horses half frantic … the country people began to look with a superstitious awe, at the red, louring aspect of the sun."

So how would such an eight-month weather disruption fit into the French Republican calendar, where the months were renamed for their weather? The Wikipedia page about the calendar is one of my favorites, and it provides some excellent grids for the months and days, plus Basque translations:
# Fall
* Vendémiaire in French (from Latin vindemia, "grape harvest") / Nabaxte in Basque. Starting 22, 23 or 24 September
* Brumaire (from French brume, "fog") / Lanhote. Starting 22, 23 or 24 October
* Frimaire (From French frimas, "frost") / Içotze. Starting 21, 22 or 23 November

# Winter:

* Nivôse (from Latin nivosus, "snowy") / Elhurcor. Starting 21, 22 or 23 December
* Pluviôse (from Latin pluvius, "rainy") / Eoüricor. Starting 20, 21 or 22 January
* Ventôse (from Latin ventosus, "windy") / Aycecor. Starting 19, 20 or 21 February

# Spring:

* Germinal (from Latin germen, "germination") / Sapadun. Starting 20 or 21 March
* Floréal (from Latin flos, "flower") / Lilidun. Starting 20 or 21 April
* Prairial (from French prairie, "pasture") / Belhardun. Starting 20 or 21 May

# Summer:

* Messidor (from Latin messis, "harvest") / Bihilis. Starting 19 or 20 June
* Thermidor (or Fervidor) (from Greek thermon, "summer heat") / Berolis. Starting 19 or 20 July
* Fructidor (from Latin fructus, "fruit") / Frutilis. Starting 18 or 19 August

Thomas Carlyle had a slightly less mocking English translation: Vintagearious, Fogarious, Frostarious, Snowous, Rainous, Windous, Buddal, Floweral, Meadowal, Reapidor, Heatidor, and Fruitidor.

Yesterday on the calendar was apparently Myrtille, blueberry day; today is Greffoir, knife day.

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