Friday, July 1, 2011

Knee High by the Fourth of July?

Not very long ago, I looked out the kitchen window and thought how "punny" it was that Mother Nature appeared to have done her hair in cornrows. The neighbor's corn was just coming up, and the long, straight rows made an interesting visual texture on the landscape. Well, I never did snap that picture, but I have been watching and marveling at the way the corn has been growing.

"Knee high by the Fourth of July" popped into my brain with a burst of giggles yesterday morning. Ha! This morning I stood by the corn to take this picture, and those long leaves were tickling the top of my head... when they bent in the slight breeze. New goal for corn farmers: 5'3" high by the Fourth of July.

Wonder how long the "knee high" reference has been in our language? "Since you were knee high to a grasshopper" is my personal favorite, I think. Hmmm, be right back. I'm off to google the origin of this expression.

Cool. "Origin of knee high to a grasshopper" led me to this little blurb. Heehee, it is an Americanism that started out as "knee high to a toad," way back in 1814. Makes you wonder exactly what was said in the conversation on that front porch, huh?

Oops, distractions, distractions. Imagine how long it might have taken to uncover that little bit of history without using the internet! Not only that, but imagine how having the world at our fingertips, instead of having a brain-load of memorized information, has changed the way our minds operate. When I was a sophomore in college, Statistics was the dreaded course for pyschology majors. After all, if we'd wanted to do math, we would have majored in something besides a social science, right? Anyway, the professor was a hoot, as psychology professors tend to be, but his one piece of serious advice struck a chord with me-- you don't have to memorize every single formula in real life, but you do have to know and remember how to look it up when you need it. Egads, Joel Royal, you must have been a seer, too, to have known that in 1985 before we were all surfing the world wide web at will!

Well, the corn is getting taller while I sit here trying to find an interesting link about the origin of "knee high by the Fourth of July." You might find this Phrasefinder Search entertaining and/or useful, but that's all I've got for now. Suffice it to say, we can figure that the phrase is an Americanism and can't be more than 235 years old.

One more thought before I go. Remember how I said I've been watching that corn since it came up? It didn't get this tall in one day, two days, or even two weeks... but with steady growth each day, it got this tall in what now seems like the blink of an eye. Think about that. "Rome wasn't built in a day" and similar sayings spring to mind, don't they? Keep growing, even when you feel as if the growth is so little that it is imperceptible. The best way to keep on track with your goals is to put down the tape measure and simply focus on doing what you can in this moment.

Now, to learn to actually apply these thoughts to real life...

3 comments:

Deb said...

Excellent read Ang!

I grew up hearing "knee high to a grasshopper" - isn't it great how these sayings spread even pre internet days?

It appears we have both been looking up the origins of sayings today/night.

I especially love your last paragraph!! I needed to read that....but we are quite stagnant are we?

Put down the tape measure though - yep, that's what I need to do ;)

angelinabeadalina said...

Yeah, I'm not so sure about knee high to a grasshopper being an Americanism that spread... I would think comparisons like that (the knee high part) must have cropped up all over the world for centuries, wouldn't you? Anyway, that damn tape measure vexes me in that I can see it, but I can't seem to actually do it, ya know?

rosebud101 said...

Well said, Ang. This is important to remember! Thanks!

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