Monday, November 13, 2017

Of Aubergines and Coddiwomples

Chronica Domus
An Old Paris Porcelain reticulated fruit basket filled with aubergines makes an unusual 
autumn centerpiece
Photo: Chronica Domus


I do so enjoy a bit of fun with words and every now and then, I come across a real corker.  I can't quite remember where I first heard the word coddiwomple but when I did, I immediately shared it with my husband.  "Ah", he said, "that's a good one, and a bit like me when I'm looking for the trail on one of my backpacking expeditions".  How, we wondered, had we not previously known of this lovely word while living it on many occasions?

"To travel in a purposeful manner towards a vague destination" is, in essence, to coddiwomple.  I'm sure that you too have had occasion to coddiwomple without knowing you were actually doing so. I partook in a bit of it myself this past Saturday as I trolled the farmers' market for something suitable to fashion into a table centerpiece in preparation for our Sunday lunch guests.

I had already decided I would avoid the use of autumnal gourds and squashes.  I'll be saving those for our Thanksgiving table next week.  Flowers too were a no-go in light of the fact that nipping down to the city's excellent flower market was not on the books on this particularly over-scheduled day.  As such, I found myself wandering towards a vague destination in terms of what to do about my centerpiece dilemma.  Or, to sum things up rather tidily, I found myself coddiwompling.

After considerable dithering, I settled upon something rather unexpected; a delightful melange of jewel-sized aubergines in shades ranging from deepest purple to creamy white.  Corralled in a pretty Old Paris Porcelain reticulated fruit basket, the arrangement qualified as possibly the most unusual centerpiece that has ever graced our dining table.  It was, as it turned out, a wonderful ice-breaker too, with our guests exclaiming how marvelous it looked, and what fun to it was to use items more commonly confined to the kitchen.

Chronica Domus
The aubergines were a big - and unexpected - hit with our Sunday lunch guests
Photo: Chronica Domus


I always find it so rewarding to stumble across a previously unknown (at least to me) word in the English language.  And, when that word is as fun to utter as coddiwomple well, I just can't help myself from repeating it.  And often!

When was the last time you found yourself coddiwompling, and what unusual things have found their way onto your dining table as a centerpiece?  Do please let me know.

9 comments:

  1. Hello CD, I am glad that your coddiwomple brought such spectacular results. You are lucky to live in California where the produce is always picture-perfect. Here it is more of a hit-or-miss affair.

    I often take walks at night with no specific destination--I just start in one direction and keep going until I decide to go back (or it starts raining--this is Taiwan after all). Does this quality as a coddiwomple, or does there have to be an eventual destination, kind of like serendipity but with no original target in mind?
    --Jim

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    1. Hello Jim,

      I wish all of my coddiwompling yielded such beautiful results too. Half the time, as the very definition of the word implies, I've no clue what I'm doing or where I'm going, but that in itself sometimes yields unexpected delights.

      And yes, it sounds as though your walks certainly qualify as coddiwompling. Nothing better than a good old coddiwomple to discover the ins and outs of a new city on one's travels. Enjoy yours.

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  2. I love your creative centrepiece - it looks like a still life in that beautiful basket. I haven't come across the term Coddiwomple - from where does it originate? Here in Australia we will say someone has "gone walkabout" which is perhaps the opposite of Coddiwomple. It means they've essentially wandered off somewhere remote without a purpose to it. A sort of hiatus.

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    1. Thank you, Heidi. The arrangement somehow reminded me of those porcelain vegetables so displaying the aubergines in a porcelain basket felt right.

      I have absolutely no clue when the word "coddiwomple" came about but I do believe it originated in England, which does not surprise me in the least (those Brits do have a way with words). I've not heard the term "gone walkabout" but it makes sense and yes, I often find myself doing that too.

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  3. I love the word and your purple majesty centerpiece. Coddiwomple would be right at home with Winnie the Pooh or Wind in the Willows. And if you coddiwomple alone, you are considered a solivagant ( a solitary wanderer). Isn't the English language marvelous?
    Best,
    KL Gaylin

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    1. Hello KL Gaylin,

      You've gone and done it now with "solivagant", a splendid word indeed! I'll just have to find a reason to use it in conversation just to see the look on my poor audience's face. Can you imagine the tone of Wordworth's Daffodils poem had he employed "solivagant"? ... I wandered like a solivagant cloud ...". What a missed opportunity!

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  4. My Dear Dear CD,
    We have long marveled at your enthusiasms for Frankenstein Fruit, Anglo-Irish Mustard Tooling, Hair Art, and sugar plum visions of faraway crunchy gravel driveways yet today you bring us a freshly discovered action verb and aubergines corralled in Old Paris Porcelain that was the talk at Sunday Luncheon.
    We can't help but wonder if your famous "1820s Sensibilities" could use a visit from that era's most famous social and literary lion...or someone else "mad, bad, and dangerous to know"....
    GSL will always make himself available to rescue a charming hostess from a well kept table centerpieced, or surrounded, with Autumnal gourds and squash.

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    1. Well, hello, GSL, I was beginning to wonder if you were in hibernation mode, or at the very least enjoying an extended coddiwomple. It's good to have you back. Oh, and yes, a visit from either lion at my table would be an honor. I trust that you'll be a most charming guest well versed in Frankenfruit and more.

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  5. Love this word! I thought it was one of those made u words when i once heard it like - oops dopey daisy etc. I tend to coddiwomple a lot in real life so interesting i don't use it everyday. I tend to think i will have a centrepiece but then never can bc i have so much food on the table it becomes a squeeze.

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