Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Wonderous Words Wednesday 28

Wondrous Words Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Kathy at the Bermuda Onion where you "can share new words that you’ve encountered or spotlight words you love. Feel free to get creative!"

I currently have a blazing headache - I don't know how coherent this is going to be, but I can't get any work done right now so here are a few words to share ...

"Tea was served on the lawn, with beautiful silver teapot and hot-water jug, and a milk jug under a dainty muslin cover weighted down with periwinkle shells sewn around the edges."

So as far as I was concerned, periwinkle is a flower or a shade of purple-blue ...
Vinca minor (aka lesser periwinkle or dwarf periwinkle)
with the eponymic purple-blue periwinkle color
Madagascar periwinkle or rosy periwinkle - a species of Catharanthus

so I was envisioning little lavender-blue shells ??? and getting confused, so I decided to look it up ...

and found out that there is an entire mollusc family, Littorinidae, that are known as periwinkles and that the common periwinkle is a species of small edible marine snail.

Shells of the common periwinkle
Having never been posh enough that servants wandered around offering me tea on silver trays, this was a new thing to me. I am still not quite sure what I think of having a muslin milk jug cover with snail shells sewn onto it - humm - so you can see why the author used the word periwinkle instead.

Oh - and I saved this up - I am a geologist so I already know all about them, but wanted to share ...

From Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey ...

The choice became apparent to me this morning when I stepped out of a Park Service housetrailer - my caravan - to watch for the first time in my life the sun come up over the hoodoo stone of Arches National Monument.

looove hoodoos!

A hoodoo is a tall skinny spire consisting of layers of sedimentary rock. They look sort of like natural totem pole shapes. They are formed by physical weathering processes - primarily frost wedging - water seeps into cracks in the rock and then freezes, expanding and causing the crack to widen. This is the same thing that creates pot holes in the roads over the winter. Over several freeze-thaw cycles this causes the cracks to widen to the point that pieces of rock (or road) break free.

Each layer of sedimentary rock in the hoodoo has a slightly different resistance to weathering so that the spire ends up with bands of variable thickness. They are most commonly found in the High Plateaus region of the Colorado Plateau and in the Badlands regions of the Northern Great Plains.

Hoodoos are fragile and constantly changing. Bryce Canyon has the most famous hoodoos, but here is an example from Arches, where Abbey worked.

Landscape Arch with LaSal Mountain in the background. The hoodoos here are still in crowd form - not standing isolated.
Here is a free standing hoodoo from Bryce canyon ...

Hoodoo in upper Hatshop from National Park Service

And here is the rest of Bryce Canyon (which isn't really a canyon at all - it wasn't formed by flowing water) because it is so amazing ...

And heck - my headache is winning so I will just give you some more pictures of Arches National Park instead of trying to remember any of the other words I had planned ...

Happy Wednesday !


  1. These are awesome and amazing photos! These rocks are beautiful and have such an unusual name that I might actually remember them. Thanks.

  2. I love the photos of the hoodoo which is a nice new word for me.

  3. Thanks so much for all the gorgeous pictures. They perked up my day and reminded me of some trips we have taken to Utah. It's an amazing place.

    I learned something new with your periwinkle word. I've often heard the term periwinkle blue and I have grown vinca minor flowers, but I've never put the two together. It was a fun connection for me.

    I hope you are feeling better. Headaches can be so debilitating. Take care.

  4. You did awesome research for a girl with a headache! Kudos. Thanks for the information, I didn't know those amazing spires in Bryce Canyon were called hoodoos. :)

  5. Thanks for sharing. I've never talked to a "real" Geologist. I enjoyed seeing the hoodoos. Thanks for sharing so many photos.

  6. Periwinkle shells is very confusing. I thought hoodoo had something to do with voodoo. Thanks for cluing me in!


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