My first year in university was a tough one. The course of veterinary gross anatomy had us all running like a maniac between the lecture theater and dissection lab from early morning until dark. Lab humor, only understandable to those who have actually ‘been there’, helped me maintain a healthy perspective on life no matter what. The Latin language course was compulsory, but we were expected to memorize not only the names of all the organs, but also the names describing all the specific features on an individual bone. Our teachers were experts in Latin language, and from them we learned many phrases, both useful and useless. We even sang four verses of Gaudeamus igitur at the ceremony in the beginning and in the end of academic year. On the last verse, our professors would stand up and respectfully nod to us all.
Vivat membrum quodlibet,
Vivat membra quaelibet;
Semper sint in flore!
Which in English is
Long live the university,
Long live the teachers,
Long live each male student,
Long live each female student;
May they always flourish!
I knew a good few Latin phrases before, from a handbook I found in my grandmother’s attic. One of my favorites was Memento mori – it sounded very mysterious and somewhat sad to a ten years old curious and life-loving girl. As an antidote to that one, there was Dum spiro spero – While I breathe, I hope.
This winter was very stormy, and three shipwrecks have become exposed on Tramore beach, Co Waterford, uncovered from sand in February. It happens from time to time. When I finally went to see them ( time, tides and weather didn’t want to cooperate for me), the other two were almost gone, and this big one was half buried in sand once again. Another couple of months, and it will be immersed in the sand until the next bad storm.
I was alone in the whole strand. It was shortly after the midday (the lowest tide), and I quickly took photographs and went back to the car. The rain was getting stronger. I was sitting there, eating my sandwich, and it is when all these University memories came back flooding, must be because of the ribs of that old boat, sticking out of the sand like a skeleton of a long dead animal.
Imagine a very young girl with very little experience who finds a book in the attic of an old house, and learns that there is a strange, haunting language in the world, that no one else probably knows! It is what I thought 🙂
If you read the List of Latin phrases, you will realise that this language is still quite alive and widely used.
Since I have long ago grown out of the age when little girls pretend to be smarter and more sophisticated than they actually are, I don’t use Latin phrases without a very good reason, and don’t overuse any quotes altogether. While I breathe, I hope that my own intuition and common sense will help me out. Not that I totally avoid the internet when I look for advice. Some people’s quotes can be very valuable.
I totally agree with this one 🙂 That Slievenamon climb during which I took the picture, was not easy for me. On the summit, there is a huge pile of stones, a possible entrance to the Celtic underworld… Some people, in hope for a good luck, bring a rock and add to the pile. I hope for a good luck always, but if I want to breathe and stay alive while climbing Slievenamon, I have to forget about taking any rocks up there with me…
On my way home, the rain eased off and I went for a walk around the Tramore Back Strand estuary. At low tide, the place is all mud and myriads of lugworm castings. Cautious birds gather in the center of the mudflat, and I only saw two Little egrets, and these four geese. I also heard a lark, invisible in the clouds. I always think of my Grandmother’s home when I hear a lark.
I came across a family of Field horsetails – their spore bearing stems come out early, and I love their sturdy look. These plants have been around millions years before the dinosaurs came in the picture. My grandmother used the green stems as a brush to clean her saucepans, and she also said that all the parts of the plant are edible and good for skin and bones.
My eyesight went down in the last two weeks. I am so sorry that I don’t visit your blogs as often these days. I will catch up when I get better, and I am working on that. The eyesight problems related to unstable blood sugar are nasty and difficult to fight. There is a natural remedy that my grandmother used – bilberry leaves, flowers, and of course berries. Look forward to Summer Solstice, the best time for gathering most of herbs. While I breathe I hope.
Have a wonderful weekend!