Friday, 14 March 2008

When has spring sprung?

I have fallen for a new word: phenology. It’s the observation and recording of recurring natural phenomena and has the rather charming etymology of phenomena + -logy (see here for the OED definition). Suddenly, an activity I’ve enjoyed all my life has a name! All these years of noticing the firsts of the year – the first snow drops or daffodils brightening up the garden in early spring or the first strawberries of summer or berries of autumn or the first frost as nights draw in – qualify me as an amateur phenologist of sorts. Apparently, this simple activity that so many can enjoy is becoming an increasingly important means of charting the impact of climate change on our environments. And to think I thought it was the study of bumps and lumps on the head when I first heard it today lol (because of course I was mixing it up with phrenology)


monix said...

I love finding new words. Thank you for this one. I've been an unsuspecting phenologist all my life, too. (I note from the red underlinings that this is also a new word for my spellchecker.)

Logophile said...

Monix, glad to hear you were also an unsuspecting phenologist!