Here we see a fairy lady immersed in sketching the first Birch tree catkins of Spring. In time the soft catkins will disperse their pollen upon the zephyrs of Spring advancing the seasons growth. This reminded me of how language pollinates itself. Travelling, finding fertile ground, travelling further still.
Catkins being such a great word I looked up the etymology. Apparently the origin is late sixteenth century from the Dutch 'katteken' (kitten) because of the fronds' resemblance to kitten's tails.
The use of the word in books in English peaked around 1800 and again around 1900. Since then it has been in steady decline - usage in 2000 was at the lowest level since 1796. It's a shame. I'm going to try and sneak it in to at least three conversations over the next few weeks and hope it flies...
In warm weather both leaves and catkins exhale a delicious aromatic perfume
Leopold Hartley Grindon, (1859) The Manchester Flora: A Companion to Walks and Wild Flowers, London: William White.