Mary Lyon, the founder of Mount Holyoke College, was born in Buckland in 1797. Nowadays the Mary Lyon Foundation supports local education in the hilltowns of western Massachusetts which include the town of her birth. Last night my team, the Prescriptive Orthographers sponsored by local Baker Pharmacy, was one of 25 teams who participated in our Annual Spelling Bee.
Every team got themselves up in more or less outrageous costumes. The Woodward Wordsmiths even brought the car that famous local artist Robert Strong Woodward used to travel around our hilltowns to find places to paint. He was quite fond of Heath and even built a little studio up on Burnt Hill at the edge of the blueberry fields. From that site now, on a clear day, you can see the towers of the University of Massachusetts in Amherst more than 50 miles away.
Since this was a team spelling bee the Spell Master pronounced the word, used it in a sentence and then pronounced it again. Then the teams had 30 seconds! to write it on their whiteboard and hold it up for the judges to review. Our team was eliminated by the word CIRRHOSIS. We pondered – two Rs? Where are the Ss? Is there an H? We were wrong. And out.
The FRGOG is the Franklin County Council of Governments that gives local towns services and expertise. Look at the great brains on those COGitators. This, the final round, took a long time. Three of the five finalist teams were either all wrong or all right through words like lachrymal, irascible, paen, arrythimia, psephology, gallimaufry and sphingine. I will leave it to you to find definitions. ACCOUCHEUR is the word that won them the Big Trophy. An accoucheur is one who assists at a birth, like a midwife. The COGitators also won a trophy for the best costume!
When all the fierce competition, and the shouting and prize winning is over, we contestants resume our friendships. Cindy Fisher, artist and great speller, and I compared notes. She was on The Classics team from the Buckland Library.
Now you might wonder what a Spelling Bee post is doing on a garden blog. The word COTYLEDON took out a couple of teams during our round. Then one or two contestants looked at me sharply because they knew I was a gardener and was familiar with cotyledons – An embryonic leaf in seed-bearing plants, one or more of which are the first leaves to appear from a germinating seed. It’s true. I do rejoice at the sight of emerging cotyledons.