Brookweeds Will Not Brook Being Ignored*

While I found the fully-opened flowers of the Limewater Brookweed (Samolus ebracteatus) charming enough to be featured in my previous post, I was equally taken with their plump little buds, and the interesting, vase-like form of the flower when seen from the side.

Like flowers of the dewberry or rain lily, they can be touched with a hint of pink which fades as the flower matures.


Comments always are welcome.
* While the construction ‘brook no’ is old and generally uncommon, it still shows up in phrases like “He would brook no criticism” or “She brooks no dissent.” It means not to allow, tolerate, or accept something.
The etymology of ‘brook’ in this sense is interesting, as this condensed passage from the LanguageHat blog demonstrates:
The Old English strong verb brúcan is historically the same as the German brauchen and has the same meaning: ‘to make use of, have the enjoyment of, enjoy.’  A specialized usage is found in the Oxford Annotated Dictionary’s second sense: “To make use of (food); in later usage, to digest, retain, or bear on the stomach.”  Citations of early usage include Thomas Raynalde (Roesslin’s Byrth of mankynde, 1540): “If she refuse or cannot brooke meat.” The first OED citation is found in Palsgrave’s 1530 “Lesclarcissement de la langue françoyse”: “He can nat brooke me of all men.”

53 thoughts on “Brookweeds Will Not Brook Being Ignored*

  1. Nice going; these portraits reveal the bud and opening flower to be at least as interesting as the opened flower.

    The food-related use of brook in the negative is similar to our modern “I can’t stomach that” and “I can’t swallow that.” In our commercial culture, there’s also “I don’t buy that.”

    1. I wish I’d been able to get everything in focus in the profile view, but this is one of those times when I was willing to go with ‘good enough.’ Did you notice the faint blue haze along the top of the extended petals? I see that occasionally when I’m photographing white flowers. I’m not sure what to call it, so my searches all have returned results that relate to white balance issues, and I don’t think that’s it.

      I’d completely forgotten “I can’t stomach that.” On the other hand, as you’ve been pointing out, some people are willing to swallow a good bit.

  2. Sweet little flower, and fun language lesson. Have you heard of The History of English podcast? Definitely gets way down into the weeds of the English language, but it’s perfect for wordy nerds.

    1. I’ve heard of that podcast, although to this point I hadn’t explored it — partly because I haven’t been inclined to listen to podcasts. I have friends who say they’re great because they can listen while driving or whatever, but I’m one of those who prefers not to divide my attention. That’s part of the reason I prefer print to audio when it comes to books, too. I’d rather read than listen. That said, I’ve looked around the site and bookmarked it. One of these days I’ll find an appealing entry and give a listen.

    1. It seems wonderful to me that a single flower can present so many ‘faces’ — but that’s part of what makes working with a macro lens such a delight. It multiples what we can see in wonderful ways.

  3. I like the bud even more than the flower. I’m particularly struck by the delicate textures revealed by your photos. And thanks for the etymology lesson – I’d always wondered about the origins of that use of “brook.”

    1. I was surprised by the texture myself, not to mention that little fringe that’s nearly invisible without the magnification the lens provides.

      It’s always seemed to me that words are somewhat the same. They contain far more than is revealed by casual usage: that is, if words are used at all. One thing I abhor about texting is the way LOLs and emojis are replacing words. Yes, that’s me: sitting on the front porch and yelling “You kids get off my lawn!”

    1. I’ve learned over time to take a little extra time and look at these tiny flowers from different angles. There’s just no telling what will appear. They’re often more complex, and more interesting, than I first assume!

    1. That is an old phrase, and one I’ve heard a few times myself. It wasn’t my mother who used it, but a grade school teacher. We all knew what she meant when she resorted to it, too. We could be a sassy bunch!

    1. Like your tiny insects, these tiny flowers are replete with interesting details. Sometimes it pays to get down to ground level and see what’s going on there!

  4. Thank you for sharing more beautiful photographs of the Brookweed! Not only are your macro images terrific, your “macro-etymology” is extremely interesting.

    (Of course, my silly side immediately began forming such things as: “I shall brook no brook book in my book nook!”)

    I know. I shall not give up my day job.

    1. You get a gold star for that one! It’s as good as “She sells seashells” for twisting the tongue.

      We’re on the same page when it comes to macro-etymology. Commenting about macro photography to another reader, I said, “It’s always seemed to me that words are somewhat the same. They contain far more than is revealed by casual usage…” Every word has a history, and layers of meaning. That’s the primary reason the tagline I chose for The Task at Hand is “A Writer’s On-Going Search for Just the Right Words.” Not every word is the right word, and distinguishing among them is part of what elevates writing to art.

    1. I thought that etymology was especially interesting. I’m glad that the old-fashioned phrase came to mind and led to a little exploration. I was glad to find the flowers, too. They really are cute.

    1. You have a new photo, Debbie — or at least one I’ve not noticed before. Is that Monkey with you?

      It is a pretty flower, although it would take a good number of them to make a bouquet. I have a feeling they wouldn’t last any longer than a minute if picked, but that’s true of many wildflowers. Better to enjoy them where they are, even if there’s not a brook in sight.

      1. Good eye, Linda! Yes, that’s me and Monkey. Domer and I photographed each other to update our social media accounts while he was home recently. We also had to update our passports. It was quite a busy, but productive, visit!

  5. The bud looks like a mold-frozen dessert involving ice cream. You’re right. You get no clue of the cup-like construction of the flower when you view it from the top. From the top it looks like an ordinary flat flower like a wild rose or some other petaled bloom. I think “brook” in the “brook no” sense is synonymous with “stomach” used as a verb. It’s another instance where the negative form of the word or expression has persisted long after the positive form has fallen out of use. “Uncouth” and “ruthless” are two adjectival instances that come to mind. (Although one is more likely to be accused of being “couth” than being “ruth!”) I’m trying to think of a verbal example, but it’s been a long day and my poor little grey cells are rather frazzled.

    1. Ice cream, whipped cream, meringue: I can see them all. What I didn’t see at first was the vase-like form of the flower when seen in profile. Not every flower provides its own vase. I’d be willing to bet you could find it around your playa lakes, because it’s shown as native in two counties just to the east of you: Crosby and Garza.

      Another one that comes to mind is “gruntled,” as in, “I hope you get through the next couple of weeks without becoming gruntled.” Frazzled probably is inevitable.

    1. We sure do have a lot of things worth seeing around here; there’s no end to it. I’m eager to get out and about again, but it’s just been too hot and humid for me to be enthusiastic about wandering on the weekends. In truth, it’s giving me a chance to spend some time in my archives, sorting and sharing a few things from there until we cool off just a bit.

  6. Lovely looking buds, reminds me of kroepoek which is an Indonesian type of cracker. Interesting the ‘brook no’, I thought it related to a small river or creek. One learns all the time.

    1. Ah — but you are right, Gerard. ‘Brook’ also is the word for a small stream or creek. I tend to think of brooks as a northeastern or pacific northwestern thing, although I suppose they’re called that in the midwest, too. Down here, we speak most often of bayous or creeks. On the other hand, the builders of subdivisions seem to love naming their developments things like ‘Stoneybrook’ or ‘Brookwood.’ Perhaps they’re trying to evoke a different climate. On the other hand, one of our most famous local homes is known as Bayou Bend, so there’s that.

      I looked up your crackers. I think I had something similar when I lived in San Francisco; I remember a cracker that tasted something like the dried shrimp I’d get there. The appearance is similar, although there are some fancy ones being sold online that could have been made with a Scandinavian rosette iron. Did Helvi make rosettes at holidays? We always had them, and they were great fun to make.

    1. Ice cream or whipped cream surely does make sense, although my first thought was of my mother’s meringue cookies. I’d love to have some of those now, but they’re strictly a winter treat down here — or at least a treat for when the humidity drops below 90%.

        1. My favorite Christmas dessert always was individual meringue shells filled with good ‘somethings.’ Peppermint ice cream with chocolate sauce was a good choice, or vanilla with brandied cherries!

  7. “In a flood of emotion, his eyes watering, he creaked to his feet and in a torrent of words declaimed, using a no-longer-current construction, ‘I will brook no wading in the stream.'”
    Whence, thence, and henceforth are fun to toss in to a conversation. I love the color, flavor and feeling that these disused words can impart. I think it’s a big part of the continuing affection for the rich language in the King James Version of the Bible.
    What a pretty flower! I agree, definitely suggests a meringue cookie.

    1. Sometimes old-fashioned constructions build a better bridge over troublesome torrents of flooding rhetoric than today’s simplified spans!

      I’m with you on the pleasures of those old words. ‘Whence’ and ‘wither’ are good, too — and then, there’s ‘caboose.’ I just learned from this list of archaic words that ‘caboose’ once referred to a kitchen on a ship’s deck. I’ve never come across that, but when I went over to the Union Pacific site to see what they had to say about the historic uses of a caboose on a train, behold:

      “It was common for railroads to assign a caboose to a conductor for his exclusive use… The men decorated their car interiors with many homey touches, including curtains and family photos. Some of the most important additions were ingredients for cooking meals that became a part of American folklore. Augmented with such comforting features, the caboose served as a home away from the trainmen’s home terminals.”

      It seems the ‘iron horses’ borrowed some of their terms from the ocean, just as the ‘prairie schooners’ did.

      1. I’ll be darned, never knew that, I’d have guessed “caboose” was kind of slang for the opposite of “cabeza,” not German or French. It’s nice to think of the conductors having a homey place while they spent years on the rails. There must have been a whole lot of cabooses at one time, I’ve run across them parked in all sorts of places, sometimes a bunch as little motels, especially as we’ve wended our way through the Southern Tier and Pennsylvania.
        Well your post and the commentary are great, always glad to hearken to your goodly news, hope you think of some more antediluvian words.

    1. I’d forgotten exactly what the Easter Seals logo looked like, but you’re right; there is a resemblance. I like the open palms, too. It’s always interesting to prowl around a flower and look at it from different angles; more often than not, there will be a surprise.

  8. I’ve been partial to a few plump little buds from time to time! But that’s a whole other story!!

    1. You’re right — and not that terrible ‘cotton candy’ (as we call it) that’s sold pre-packaged in stores, but the real thing, spun at carnivals and fairs. However it’s seen, everyone seems to agree that it’s a ‘sweet’ flower by its very nature.

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