May 29, 2015

Terra del Fuego...

Oh, the National Spelling I love to hear those beautiful and obscure words!  I vividly remember a youth symphony trip in 2000, and how all our students were huddled around the television set in the gift shop of the Cheers Bar in Boston, standing awestruck as speller after speller conquered words we had never even heard of before.  Kudos to last night's winners (a tie!) with these two words:  scherenschnitte and nunatak.  

I always loved participating in our town's elementary school spelling bee.  Funny how some of those words stay with you...Renaissance, restaurant and precipice are three that I remember having to think through carefully before I spelled them. I was always so proud to bring home a Superior rating, but I wish I had instead been able to bring home a lovely painting, like the one below.

This is one of our family's prized possessions--the first place "trophy" handed to my grandfather when he took first place at a spelling bee, over a hundred years ago.  I've always pictured the spelling competition taking place in a small Indiana schoolhouse, surrounded by all the community as the spelling bees were quite the social event back then.  In my mind, I always see the scene as described in Laddie, set in Indiana and written by Gene Stratton Porter in 1913:

"...from that you could call it real spelling.  they spelled from the grammars, hyperbole, synecdoche, and epizeuxis.  They spelled from the physiology, chlorophyll, coccyx, arytenoid, and the names of the bones and nerves, and all the hard words inside you.  They tried the diseases and spelled jaundice, neurasthenia, and tongue-tied.  They tried all the occupations and professions, and went through the stores and spelled all sorts of hardware, china and dry goods...they spelled from the Bible, Nebuchadnezzar, Potiphar, Peleg, Belshazzar, Abimelech and a host of others I never heard the minister preach about.  They spelled epiphany, gaberdine, ichthyology, gewgaw, kaleidoscope and troubadour.  Then Laddie spelled one word two different ways; and the Princess went him one better, for she spelled another three."  

They finally end in a tie as well, with both of them misspelling Terra del Fuego.  Only to learn later that they both tried to let the other one win, as both certainly knew how to spell it!  I am pretty sure I could have spelled Terra del Fuego correctly, but some of those words last night?  Highly doubtful!

Congratulations to the winners, and Grandpa Badger as well!

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