Bole – the stem or trunk of a tree, or something cylindrical resembling a tree’s trunk, like a pillar or roll.
The first usage of this word according to the OED was around 1314—e.g., ‘His neck is thicker than a bole.’ ‘The gnarled boles of pollard oaks and beeches.’
When writing historical fiction it’s always a battle between authenticity and reader’s enjoyment. Avelynn is set in the year 869: a time when Old English reigned supreme—a form of our language that is unrecognizable today. If I wanted to make my book truly authentic, I’d be waist deep in obscure and obsolete words and usage that no modern reader could comprehend! The compromise then is to use today’s language to set the tone, without sounding too modern that the passages ring of anachronism—phrases or words that just sound grossly out of place, like saying ‘wowzers,’ or ‘that’s cool,’ in ninth century dialogue.
Bole is a nice word. It has nice, deep linguistic roots, but it’s not too obscure or odd sounding that I wouldn’t be able to slip it into the narrative without too much trouble. It’s also part of my APP – My Alzheimer’s Prevention Plan. Earlier, I opened my Webster’s dictionary to A and found algid. Today, I peeked onto the pages of the letter B and happened upon bole. I’m committing the words to memory to help grow my hippocampus. This tidy little word will come in handy. Be sure to look for it in one of the Avelynn novels … I’m sure I’ll find the perfect place for it. 😀
In keeping with the three ‘Rs’ of writing and learning, as outlined by my children’s elementary school teachers: retell, relate, reflect … I’ve retold what bole is, I’ve related the word to my writing, now I’m going to reflect on something that makes it personal to me. This, all in an effort to make these words stick in my lagging short-term memory reserves and hopefully help grow my brain and ward off the damaging effects of Alzheimer’s, which as of 2015 has affected 47.5 million people worldwide.
Here then is an amusing anecdote for your reading pleasure:
When I was young, my grandparents owned a few acres of property.
They didn’t have a ‘farm,’ per se, but my grandfather turned one of those acres into a large vegetable garden, which supplied a good portion of his culinary needs, as well as those of his friends and family who were lucky enough to get some of his surplus harvest. My grandparents also had several varieties of apple and pear trees, which garnered lots of delicious fruit for pies and tarts and just plain eating! I loved going to my grandparents. In fact, I was there most weekends of my youth.
Picture little blonde me, running around in pigtails, playing in the dirt, barefoot.
Now, envision those apple trees. They were old, gnarled, and beautiful. Not like the squat and compact hybrids and cultivars of today, these thick boled giants were strong and sturdy, like protective, gentle matrons. Which leads me to my favourite past time—climbing the apple trees.
Solid and wide, the branches were twice my width and easily supported my tiny frame. I climbed them all. Admittedly, some were more challenging than others, but I didn’t give up, persevering until I could shimmy up each and every rough-barked bole and rest safely in the curve of a forked bough. I was a tomboy, in case you couldn’t tell. 😀 But of all the trees on the farm, there was one I held dear to my heart. Its boughs held me, supported me, cradled me, but it also provided a fantastic opportunity for make believe.
Tucked away safely in the nook between two hefty branches, my feet dangling on either side of the trunk, I would don my construction hat and become a foreman, the tree my excavator. The little shoots that emerged from knots and crannies in the bark were my levers and gears.
I would pull and push, lifting the great shovel up and down, while a tug or jerk on a separate shoot swung the gaping mouth from side to side. The amusing part of all this was, it was never a dig site, I was there to demolish stuff! I would raise the big arm, crash the claws down into the roof of an imaginary building and watch it chomp and tear away at the structure, swing after swing, blow after blow, until finally the building would collapse in a great puff of dust and smoke. It was a beautiful sight!
But alas, all good things must come to an end, and the horn blast would echo five o’clock throughout the construction site. I would congratulate the workers on a job well done, put my big rig into park, remove the keys, set my helmet on the seat, and climb down. It was then a quick scamper into the old farm house and a sprightly jump up on to the bathroom counter. With my toes wiggling in the warm sink water, my grandmother would scrub the dirt away until the brown water trickling down the drain turned clear. After all, every barefoot construction worker must wash their hands and feet for dinner. 😀