Thursday, July 18, 2013

Estivate


Some like it hot. Some really don’t. Some animals have a habit of crawling under the ground when it gets cold outside, and they just close their eyes and sleep, for as long as it takes for it to get warm again. We call this hibernation. There are also animals - albeit lesser known ones - who go to sleep when it starts getting very, very hot, and they wake up when September ends (as a manner of speaking). 
    To estivate, as you might have guessed, is a habit observed by animals who like to ‘spend a hot or dry period in a prolonged state of torpor or dormancy’ (thus spoke my dictionary). This word has a very long history, and to throw things around a little, I’ll start at the end and work my way towards the beginning. Before ‘estivate’ was slurped up by the English language, it was a Latin word, the verb ‘aestivare’ meaning ‘to spend the summer’. This verb, in turn, was derived from the noun ‘aestus’ (‘heat’), or else ‘aestas’ (‘summer’), the latter meaning literally ‘the hot season’. And now, ladies and gents, we’re gonna take it way back to the time before Latin (and yes, there is such a thing), to a language which is constructed (and therefore might contain inaccuracies) by linguists, who have studied word forms to the bone. Such a constructed language, which came before Latin, is Proto-Italic, which contains the word ‘*aissat-’ (I’m following the rules of linguistic notation, but it might be good to explain: the hyphen at the end here implies that this is merely a root word; the asterisk emphasizes that this is not a ‘real’ word, in that it hasn’t ever been found in manuscripts - it is strictly a construction). This word, in turn, derived from the Proto-Indo-European word ‘*aidh-’, which means ‘to burn’. So there.
    Though ‘to estivate’ is mostly strictly used in a scientific context, I would like to mould it into a more workaday definition. As summer has started to settle in, I have begun to wither. Do not fret - this is a process which happens every year. But exactly because of that I have to confess that I do not like summer. At all. The audience gasps. Not a fan of summer? Surely this is unheard of. I agree that my personal opinion deviates from that of the general public, but I’m afraid I can’t help it. I was born in winter, and I love it. From which, of course, it doesn’t automatically follow that I should detest any other season, but I don’t like summer for its own qualities.
    One reason why I’d sign myself up for estivation is the heat. I cannot take the heat. The problem is that, whereas in winter you can add on as many layers as you like, in summer you can’t just shed layers ad infinitum. Even if you would risk public nudity, chances are that you will still be hot and sweaty (and not in a sexy way). Added to this is a sneaking suspicion that my body produces more sweat than that of the average person. (Interesting side-track: I read in ‘Quiet’ - a book I mentioned earlier - that introverts literally have a thin skin; apparently they sweat more than extroverts do, though I suspect this has more to do with their particular sensitivity than with their constitution.) Which means that I have to change shirts about four times as much as I would in winter, because things get stinky very easily (as do I - I get annoyed when my mother tells me to take a shower already, mostly because I can’t deny the validity of her request.) 
    Another good motive for estivation would be mosquitos. In winter these irksome insects never bother me, but in summer they’re all over the place. And the fact that I also get stung more than the average person has nothing to do, despite popular mythology, with having ‘sweet blood’. In fact, mosquitos get to you because you sweat, and this, as we have established, is an aspect of my constitution which I have no control over. Here again is one of those annoyingly paradoxical problems during summer: while I could decide to sleep entirely naked, I’d still have to have a blanket thrown over me (if not for warmth, then for the false sense of security it gives me against axe-murderers), which would still make me sweat. Which attracts mosquitos. Which makes it impossible for me to lose the blanket, because that would be an open invitation for them to get to me. And it’s not even so much the itchy red spots which bother me. It’s the zooming. When a mosquito starts zooming around my head when I want to sleep, everything is lost. The light goes on, I take out excalibur (my weapon of mass mosquito-destruction) and hunt the room for this pestilential arthropod with vampiric constitution. However, the brute is often too smart for me, and flies away to the upper regions of my room, where I could only reach it by stacking various items of furniture. And while I may hate mosquitos with a vengeance, I don’t think they’re worth breaking my neck over. Long story short: it’s a hopeless battle. I can’t silence the mosquitos, and I can’t sleep as long as they’re buzzing about my head. Frequent cases of insomnia are the consequence.
    And as is usually the consequence of insomnia, a certain fuzziness and somnolence will take a hold of me during the day. This has not so much to do with mosquitos (I won’t let them take all the credit), but with the general haze there seems to hang around the summer months. As a result, I find it remarkably more difficult to concentrate during summer, and a lethargy - which has nothing whatsoever to do with a wish to ‘enjoy the weather’ - will sneak up on me. Any productiveness is therefore difficult during summer, which is terribly frustrating.
    And there you have it, folks. I could expound upon many more arguments in favor of estivation, but I think I’ve made my point. Summer is simply not my season, and I don’t think it likely that it ever will be. Which is why I wish sometimes that I could crawl somewhere beneath the ground and sleep through these months of tedium and irritation. If there was any biological possibility in humankind for estivation, I would surely like to sign up for it. As I am quite sure that that is impossible, however, I will doggedly sit through the next couple of months, sniffing the air hopefully for a nonexistent breeze. 

2 comments:

  1. You is funneh :3
    But seriously, and in all grammatical correctness, I enjoyed this post ^^

    ReplyDelete
  2. Definitely found myself in this post.
    Most of the people wait for the summer whole year , and I ...
    I just want to skip it.
    Waiting for September and the routine of life. :)

    ReplyDelete

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