This Thing Called Courage

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A Gaggle of Geese, a Husk of Hares

FIONN THE DOG and I have been at the vet's several times of late (he suffered a head trauma which turned into an infection at the hinge of his jaw, which has made me crazy lately) and while waiting in one of the surgical offices, I came across this wonderful poster, which lists the proper, albeit increasingly archaic, names for groups of specific animals. Just had to share! As someone very near and dear to me noted recently, 'the world has lost much of its elegance.' So has our language. Perhaps we can resurrect some of these words by using them more frequently. For example, when at work, at an office meeting, one could say to one's superiors, especially if one were sick of working at that particular establishment, "Good morning, sirs and madames. May I say that walking into the room just now, you reminded me of nothing more than a Pace of Asses."

Speaking of a Pace of Asses, I am reminded of the time I visited Ireland about thirty years ago and was hanging out with some of my younger cousins at my family's farm in Castlemartyr, County Cork. Brian, who was 15 at the time, and I, went into the village to get some grain, and we took one of the asses with us to carry the grain back home. The ass had to go onto the walk-on scale outside the feed store to see how much grain we had purchased-- all well and good. But after the ass had been weighed, he refused to move. Not an inch!!! Brian tried coaxing, cajoling, shoving-- even, God help us, lighting matches near his hindquarters. Still the ass refused to move. Brian finally approached me, red-faced and sweating. "Oh no!" I thought, "He's going to ask a city-slicker like me to solve this problem." But no...."Uncle Joe," he said. "Can you ever tell me, in the name of all that's good, how in the world did our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and his family ever escape into Egypt on an ass?" So here we go:

A Litter of Pups. (yes-- especially if you've ever had to clean up after a bunch of puppies...)

A Flock of Sheep.

A String of Ponies.

A Covey of Patridges.

A Pride of Lions.

A Herd of Elephants.

A Plague of Locusts.

A Colony of Ants.

A Leap of Leopards.

A Pod of Seals.

A Sloth of Bears. (Anyone who has ever been chased by a bear would, I think, protest this one)

A Rafter of Turkeys.

A Pace of Asses.

A Walk of Snipe.

A Gam of Whales.

A Nest of Rabbitts.

A Gang of Elk.

A Fall of Woodcocks. My favorite bird. And during the male's mating ritual, they do seem to fall to the ground)

A Dule of Doves.

A Skulk of Foxes.

A Dissimulation of Birds.

A Spring of Teal.

A Peep of Chickens.

A Bevy of Roebucks.

A Business of Ferrets. (love this one)

A Bale of Turtles.

A Pitying of Turtledoves. (how poetic)

A Drift of Hogs. (wonderfully oxymoronic-- I can assure you that hogs don't 'drift' into one's home

A Paddling of Ducks.

A Siege of Herons. (maybe the way they fish?)

A Trip of Goats.

A Charm of Finches.

A Cete of Badgers.

A Deceit of Lapwings.

A Shoal of Bass.

An Exhaltation of Larks. (Lovely!)

A Drove of Cattle.

A Singular of Boars.

A Tidings of Magpies. (Lovely too!)

A Gaggle of Geese.

A Congregation of Plovers.

A Husk of Hares.

An Unkindness of Ravens.

A Labor of Moles.

A Richness of Martens.

A Cast of Hawks.

A Knot of Toads.

A Descent of Woodpeckers.

A Sounder of Swine.

A Mustering of Storks.

A Clutch of Eggs.

A Bouquet of Pheasants. (Lovely)

An Army of Caterpillars.

A Hover of Trout.

A Flight of Swallows.

A Troop of Kangaroos.

A Clowder of Cats.

A Watch of Nightingales.

A Barren of Mules.

A Shrewdness of Apes. (Rank speciesism!)

A Rag of Colts.

A Murmuration of Starlings. (Very apt, though I would suggest 'a shrillness.')

A Building of Rooks.

A Parliament of Owls. (For WHOM did you vote?)

A Murder of Crows. (Shakesperean!)

There were others, but at this point the vet came back into the room and my scribbling came to a premature end.


OpenID berlinorama said...

I am so sorry to hear about Fionn's injuries! How in the world did it happen? I hope he makes a full and speedy recovery.
Much love and healing thoughts from Pam and Hutch, who have also been spending far too much time at the vet's lately

3:47 PM  

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