Tag Archives: canal


What an adventure Bubo and I are on!

Who would have thought that the subterranean river would have us end up in New Hampshire? I would not have guessed that one bit. I was thinking more along the lines of Rockaway Beach, to be honest.

New Hampshire in August is delightful; we slept beneath a 100 year old apple tree (tart and crisp apples by moonlight are highly recommended) and traversed fields of fresh-smelling grasses. Bubo dined heartily and I let the stars soak into my old skin.

Of course, we met Esme, a young girl who raises chickens that lay perfectly spherical eggs. Amazing and beguiling, I must say. Not to mention delicious. Esme sang to us each morning while she brought us eggs and she kindly hosted our stay.

We hopped a scrumpy cart heading east (scrumpy is hard apple cider, alcoholic and delightful) and wound our way through the White Mountains.

We are now in Maine, though our arrival was heralded by downpours and Bubo was incredibly cranky due to soggy feathers and heavy wings. The crows are rather large and loud here in Maine, and Bubo has been revitalized with copious amounts of heated discussions with them. She even declined to join me at the Bowdoin Art Museum for an Edward Hopper exhibit, preferring instead to stay on the verdant lawns of the college haggling with these enormous black birds.

I hear them now, arguing in the trees. Which brings me to today’s word. (You didn’t think I’d miss out on Word Wednesday just because I’m on an explore, did you?)

Quidnunc [kwid-nuhngk] is a noun defined as a person eager to learn the latest news or gossip. A curious person. A busy body. It is from the Latin quid nunc which translates to what now?

I believe that there are five trees full of black-feathered quidnuncs above me. When they all start jabbering at once, it does rather sound like they’re demanding “what?” “what?” “what?” “what?”.

It’s a beautiful day, my oddlings. I’ll take this opportunity to hunt for scallops along the seashore. Scrumpy can only take one so far before one’s stomach starts voicing demands of its own.

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I have spent two days underground, exploring the newly unearthed canal beneath the house. August has brought many storms to Brooklyn, and this past week we had some earth-shattering thunder-bashings. Literally earth-shattering, considering that the lightening and thunder knocked loose a wall of the catacombs and instead of packed mud and earth, I saw an opening. I cleared away the debris to discover a canal, running east/west, through a tunnel-like cavern.

Bubo and I spent much of yesterday in the grotto, as we’ve taken to calling it. The temperature is a good bit cooler within the grotto, and the humidity feels high. I will be testing it later today with some instruments specifically made for that.

This morning, I took my coffee into the grotto. From clearing away the wall in the catacombs, I’ve managed to create a sitting area overlooking the canal. I sipped my coffee and watched the water tumble past. It’s surprisingly light and clear down there, leading me to believe that there are clearings in the tunnel roof and walls allowing sunlight to pour in. Unless, perhaps, this is not an abandoned waterway at all, and there are lights lining the walls. I’ve not explored very far, yet. I’m still taking readings of pH levels of the water. The fact that it smells like beef stew after 6 pm is fascinating. And makes me wonder if the canal is in fact filled with beef stew and not pure Brooklyn water. So many questions to answer!

This discovery leads me to today’s word.

Selcouth is an adjective meaning unusual, strange, rare, uncommon or wonderful. It is from the Middle English, in turn from the Old English selcūþ, seldcūþ“unusual, unwonted, little known, unfamiliar, novel, rare” – which, in turn, are from seld + cūþ (known).

This grotto, this canal, are certainly selcouth, wouldn’t you say? Could it lead me into the Paerdegat Basin? Is it made of beef stew? Is it still used as a secret waterway? Does it meander through the entire Atlantic Coast, or is it Brooklyn-specific?

I’m putting the finishing touches on an exploration boat – think Dr. Livingstone meets Cleopatra’s barge – to fully explore with Bubo. Would you join me? It promises to be a selcouth journey.

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