Pixies Perspective Pondering
A few mornings ago, as I was drinking my first brew of the day, I was joined by my pixie friends. “What are you calling yourselves today?” I asked after the initial greetings & chatter about who among them was able to drink tea; some did but I could see from the blushes it was not something they liked to admit, none of the others criticized but there was an air of sorrow that some of their number had succumbed to what is thought of as pixie poison (one of many substances we humans enjoy that is harmful to other species).
The answer to my question, when it came, as they began to discuss (and squabble a bit in a half joking and generally friendly fashion)to decide what they felt they should be collectively called and how this title should reflect their mood or activities for that moment in time or phase of their existence. Then we wandered into how a name collective or otherwise could influence how they felt. We meandered through a discussion of what a collection of other species was to humans and if the first principle could be applied. Here are some of their musings on this point: A ‘gaggle of geese’ – very apt we agreed as it described the noise they made when they were gathered together on the ground. Ah yes, but what about when they fly? I queried, then they are called a ‘skein of geese’; after some pixie puzzlement and a description of a ‘skein’ as a hank of wool or string loosely gathered together, they thought about how geese formed a V shape in flight with maybe odd ‘legs’ to it and possibly a straggler or two trailing behind. I am not sure they were convinced by a ‘skein of geese’.
By this time my tea was lukewarm and I noticed one or two pixies taking surreptitious sips; I pretended not to notice, they are embarrassed very easily (and sometimes offended as a shield for this).
We explored a few more collective nouns for animals a ‘herd’ of cows; again applicable as these creatures generally allow themselves to be herded or directed in a particular way by humans and their dogs. A ‘flock of sheep’; we had some disagreement with this as some pixies (mostly the females) thought it described the appearance of sheep, as being similar to ‘flock’; a fluffy substance applied to fabric, I could see where they were coming from with this and most of the other pixies could too; but one or two insisted we had the wrong meaning for ‘flock’, their point was also pretty convincing when applied to sheep, who do indeed ‘flock’ together, probably a defensive strategy, and they tend to follow a leader. This was an interesting debate already but then one of the older pixies; who had so far just listened attentively occasionally nodding her agreement; posed the question of collective nouns for humans. A crowd was the first put forward. They were not much impressed with our human word and began to excitedly invent some of their own. After much animated discussion, laughter and pixie sparks generated they decided we should call ourselves after what we happened to be doing, as they sometimes did.
I have to say these pixie friends of mine can be very convincing as well as entertaining. Two Blue Buttons (see Pixie Buttons blog) described how he once watched a group of walkers, about a dozen of them strung out in twos and threes, with one or two singles in a line about 300 yards long. “What would they be called?” 2BB asked, ramblers I replied, the pixies didn’t agree that a ‘Ramble of walkers’ was accurate, I was laughing at how the pixie mind translated ‘ramblers’ into a ‘ramble of walkers, gently and lovingly amused by them as I often am. 2BB interrupted with his opinion that on the day he watched the walkers they should have been called a ‘straggle’ because they were all strung out.
We then explored other physical human collective activities; sports mostly and thought about the generic term of ‘Team’ for the players. The pixies had a lot of fun coming up with collective nouns for individual sports. Here are some of them: ‘A rabble of rugby players’; Hockey ‘a heist’; Polo a ‘Pony’; Football – a ‘fool’ (we had a lot of meandering on this one, mostly involving human behaviour both on and off the pitch. Pixies can be very astute and correctly identified the ‘flock’ mentality when humans are exposed to fear of ‘not belonging’; they have promised to return to debate their views on this. I look forward to that!
Finally after about an hour or so we got back to the original question. I didn’t need to ask again; they hadn’t forgotten, pixies rarely do that; they were just arriving at a conclusion before replying. When out of the blue one of them said today we could be a ‘preponderance of pixies’. A little detour was taken here when I remarked how often they chose a word that started with the same letter as the name of the species (or group) they were describing. For some reason this provoked a storm of chatter and laughter. Some pixies laughing so much (the ones who had been quietly knitting nice new red pixie summer hats from silk, in the round to a very complicated pattern. They were using large blackthorn needles, with a silk worm to one side and a cochineal beetle to the other. ); fell off their bed post perches. That took a lot of untangling.
When eventually the merriment subsided a few more suggestions were made. A ‘parliament of pixies’ was one thought; some of them tried this out; it reflected so they thought our human behaviour; much heated debate, some hysterical laughter… Ah but no, finally they didn’t want to compare themselves to the more dis reputable and dishonourable side of our human representatives in ‘parliament’. They, and I agree with them, did not think pixies behaved that badly even when they disagreed which they often did. I remarked to them that they maybe represented how humans should behave when they disagreed, and mentioned how much I admire the pixies democratic, gentle and loving way they sorted out a collective response.
More discussion followed and their final collective noun for that day at that time was ‘a preponderance’; they explained it described what they had been doing. Pre- ponder – ing before they responded. Something we all should do a little more often, although maybe not for quite as long as pixies do.
Pixies Perspective Pondering