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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Blue Like Halcyon

It’s Wednesday, and that means I want you to learn a new word.  Again, you may or may not have heard or seen it before.  It’s not terribly common, but it is terribly enigmatic – to me anyway.   My apologies to Donald Miller and Tricia Goyer for blatantly ripping off their book titles.


As I start typing this I am right where you are.  I see that word and try to figure out where it came from.  Who is it that puts a Y in the middle?  Will that make the C sound more like an S or a K?  My mind flashes back to my sophomore phonetics class and Dr. Maynard Filter at James Madison, “There is no C in phonetics, only K or S”.  Well, that doesn’t help me much.

I try to think of when I’ve heard it used or seen it in a book.  No books are coming to mind.  The last time I saw it was just a few days ago on Twitter.  A group of people were at a conference and this was the name of the restaurant they had chosen.  Again, no help there.

I go into my mind and it conjures up a vast expanse of sky blue.  Not your typical bright sunny day kind of blue.  No this is a more crystalline or ethereal blue.  But that’s just what I’ve come up with.  So, without putting it off any longer, time to look it up.  I just go to

Photo Credit

Halcyon (hal – see – un)

Ooh, this is even better!  I now see why I had the idea of this blue in my head.  Imagine a clear sky, a light breeze and you are taking it all in stretched out in a gently swaying hammock.  There’s very little sound.  Water on a pond is gently rippling on the surface.  You sit up and gaze across a vast expanse of lush lawn and garden.  Topiaries and urns sit in graceful symmetry lining a drive.  At the end of that drive an archway of wrought iron scrollwork beckon to those who would enter.  You stand up and walk barefoot through the carefully manicured blades of glass in a winding meander to pour yourself another glass of lemonade.  Such is a halcyon life.

Rosecliff - Newport, RI         Photo Credit

Are you still with me?  I somehow pictured myself in the backyard of my estate that may or may not be like Biltmore or one of the estates of Newport.  I hope I was able to give you a sense of tranquility, calmness, and peace.  Then, my intention was to give you the impression of wealth and prosperity.  Finally, I hope you were smiling, feeling joyful or carefree.  All these things go into this word.  It’s quite rich in meaning.  Would saying that the word halcyon is, in itself, quite halcyon be a bit too much?

My wish for you is that you get to use this word to describe your day, your vacation, your next trip to the grocery store, your home life.  I’m feeling relaxed now and have had a few halcyon moments in an otherwise crazy, hectic day.  Now where did the staff put my lemonade??

The restaurant’s website has a beautiful photograph and explanation of the word’s origin.  If you happen to have been there, l’d love to know how it is.  I had to make myself stop reading the menus.  It was making me very hungry.


  1. I thought it was a color too, and I totally chose K until you taught me better. :D