Thursday, January 19, 2012

Janathon 2012 Day 19: Matutinal grey

Janathon 2012 Day 19: Run 5 miles, Time - 59min, Weather - rain clouds at first, gradually clearing
Sometimes when reading book you can be stopped in your tracks to wonder why the author chose a particular word or phrase. 
A couple of days ago I was read ‘Half the human race’ by Anthony Quinn when I was struck by a description of one of the characters being dressed in a suit of matutinal grey. Matutinal means pertaining to the morning but why was it used instead of morning grey, which was the generally used term for a type of suit in Edwardian times (when the novel is set)? If the book had been written by Will Self I would have accepted it as part of game called ‘play the dictionary’ but the style of this novel is fairly straightforward. So why the more arcane adjective?
I put the phrase into Google and found it is not common but it has been used to describe Raffles:
“Old Raffles opened his own door to me. I cannot remember finding him fresher, more immaculate, more delightful to behold in every way. Could I paint a picture of Raffles with something other than my pen, it would be as I saw him that bright March morning, at his open door in the Albany, a trim, slim figure in matutinal grey, cool and gay and breezy as incarnate spring.”
Well that is good. It adds a touch of Edwardian authenticity to phrase (and shows the wonder of Google. I would never have been able to make that connection in any other way).
But what has this anecdote about becoming distracted by one word in 150,000 got to do with a running blog? The answer is of course: ‘very little’. Except I have become interested in the trying to identify ‘matutinal grey’ by observation - what is the most common colour just after dawn? The answer so far is varied. Today for example was dark and rainy, nothing at breezy or spinglike about it.
But I am now looking more closely at the colours of the morning and that gives me another thing to pay attention to when I am on my run. Birds, animals, foliage and flowers, the colour of the sky, anything quirky: these are all things I look out for. It makes a run far more interesting than only thinking about my heart rate.

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