Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Bay leaves and homonyms

click photo to enlarge
Our store of dried bay leaves is getting low, so the other day I picked some more from the tree that grows in our garden. We are fortunate to have this particular specimen because eighteen months ago a high wind brought down a massive limb from a nearby willow that flattened it. Remarkably, after the fallen branch was removed, the 12 feet tall bay sprang back to almost vertical, and, after a few months of being tied upright to a stake, resumed its normal and vigorous growth.

I collected about a hundred leaves making no impression on the tree, and laid them out on wire trays in a cool, north-facing room to dry. Being a meticulous sort of person (well, sometimes anyway!) I arranged them in rows to maximise the number that the tray would hold. The following day, casting around for subjects for a photograph or two, I noticed the drying bay leaves and took several shots of them. The example above, with its contrast increased using a blue filter, then sepia-toned, is the best of the bunch.

Whilst I was taking my shots it occurred to me that the word "bay" is a homonym with quite a few meanings. Being a pedantic sort of person (well, sometimes anyway!) I decided to see how many such meanings I could find. My researches uncovered about 14 distinct definitions. "Bay" can mean: a type of tree, a small ball (obscure), an indentation of the sea into the land, an indentation of the land into the sea or into a range of hills (both obscure!), an opening in a wall (especially the space between two columns), a recess in a building, prolonged barking or shouting, the stance of a hunted animal, an embankment, a particular branch of an antler, the old word for baize, a reddish brown colour (especially of horses), to seek with open mouth (obscure). Being an inquisitive sort of person (always!) I wonder if anyone feels their life is a little more complete knowing trivia of this sort?

photograph & text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Olympus E510
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 35mm macro, (70mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f5.6
Shutter Speed: 1/125
ISO: 400
Exposure Compensation: -0.7 EV
Image Stabilisation: On