Awash, Ahoy, and Avast…from Oysterville!

By VanGogh

Wrote my uncle Willard Espy in his book Oysterville, Roads to Grandpa’s Village:

In an ordinary year, a hundred inches of rain fall on grandpa’s village; we have mutated until we breathe with comfort air that is half water, or water that is half air.  I suspect that if the peninsula were to sink beneath our feet, a mishap that in some downpours seems imminent, we could live submerged without serious inconvenience.

As the rain continues to pound on our roof and to fill the meadow with puddles-turned-to-lakes, I think that we will soon be testing the truth of Willard’s suspicion.  I may not be growing gills yet, but my thoughts are definitely taking a nautical turn.  As in “awash.”  Who but someone threatened to become flooded with rain or seawater would think in terms of awash?

Which leads me straight to ahoy.  It seems the logical greeting, one neighbor to another, these last few days.  Or even, farmer to chicken.  Last night as Nyel headed for the coop, I wondered whatever had become of my grandfather’s old sou’wester.  It surely is the only sort of head covering that could approach adequacy in this ongoing deluge.  And “ahoy!” is certainly the only appropriate salutation to hens trying to avoid the gathering flood.

By Constable

“Avast raining!” I want to shout.  I think “avast,” also, is usually used in a maritime setting.  As in “Avast heaving” — the cry to arrest the capstan when nippers are jammed, or any other impediment occurs in heaving the cable.  (I found that description on the Wordnik site online and I think it says it all.  Don’t you?)

And why do all those words begin with ‘a’ anyway?  Perhaps Poseidon (or his Roman counterpart, Neptune) had a speech impediment that came down to seafaring folks in this peculiar fashion.  A-back, abaft and all aboard!  If you’re a-coming to Oysterville, bring your snorkel!

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