Friday, 6 January 2012

colly birds and wollemi pines on the last day of Christmas

Tonight we'll take the decorations off our Christmas tree, because we follow the tradition that on the 6th of January Christmas is over. It's a Wollemi pine, and we are happy to grow an amazing tree that dates back to prehistoric times and was thought to be extinct until its recent discovery.

I once heard this is the only Christmas tree available for Melbourne that actually enjoys being inside the house. And I've been surprised to see how true that is. It's been out in the garden since last December and was starting to look a bit sad. In this photo you can see the scorch marks on the leaves.

But now that it's inside it is sprouting fresh new growth. So it will stay in the house for a few months and get some tlc.

While I was taking the decorations off the tree the refrain of 'The Twelve Days of Christmas' started running through my head and now I can't stop myself singing 'Five go-old rings'. I did read that some versions sing golden rings, so that you don't have to hang onto that note in 'gold', but that's not the version I learned.

Likewise I sing four colly birds, not four calling birds - as in the clip I linked to above - and I got to wondering whether my version was the older one and what a colly bird is.

Once I discovered that the word means a blackbird, all became clear! I began to see the connection with the color black. A colliery is a place where coal is mined, and coal is black.

And in wandering around I came across a suggestion that border collie dogs might be so called because they herded black-faced sheep - or because the dogs themselves were black. says:
The breed's name probably comes from its charge; the Scottish black-faced sheep called the Colley.
But I guess I had better leave discussions of dogs to my other blog.


Gitte Christensen said...

Hi parlance,
Happy New Year.

I've just mentioned you on my blog - I hope that's all right. If not, please let me know and I'll remove it.

parlance said...

Hi, Gitte. I love that you've mentioned me. Thanks. I read all of your posts, btw. I just don't comment every time.
Your blog is a great one for writers, because (1) it shows the nitty gritty of the writer's life and shows success comes from hard work as well as ability and creativity;
(2)it's interesting.