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A.Word.A.Day--beestings

Pronunciation RealAudio

beestings (BEE-stingz) noun, also beastings, biestings

First milk produced by a mammal, especially a cow, after giving birth. Also known as colostrum or foremilk.

[From Middle English bestynge, from Old English bysting.]

"Two thriving calves she suckles twice a day, And twice besides her beestings never fail To store the dairy with a brimming pail."
Publius Vergilius Maro (translated by John Dryden); The Works of Virgil.

Recently my daughter turned six and received a magic kit as a birthday present. She was visibly excited, "Now I can be like Harry Potter!" She opened the cardboard box and a bunch of strings, ribbons, playing cards, and a few other earthly objects came tumbling down. She asked me to read the accompanying instructions. I explained, "You tie one end of the ribbon to the black string and hide it behind your shirt collar. Then you pull the string with one hand and the ribbon magically appears!" She looked at me incredulously, "That's not magic! You have to hide the ribbon first."

Well, it took some explaining that that's how the magic worked. The disappointment was palpable. The Easter Bunny is already dead. Eventually, the Tooth Fairy and Santa will also give way. She's growing up and growing wiser. That's the price we pay to grow up.

One day, she'll be old enough to weave her own magic. The Tooth Fairy and friends will come alive for her again as they did for us when she was born. And the cycle will continue. Meanwhile, we're in no hurry.

This week's words are somewhat like that magic. These unusual, out-of-this-world words aren't what they appear to be. They play a trick on us but a closer look reveals the secret. There are neither bees nor stings in beestings. Look for more words like that this week.

-Anu

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To confront a person with his own shadow is to show him his own light. -Carl G. Jung, psychiatrist (1875-1961)

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