Monday, September 6, 2010

A whimsical Setting

I have always loved the word whimsical although the images it brings up are nothing like the dictionary definition which describes whimsical as a "playfully quaint or fanciful, esp. in an appealing or amusing way; acting or behaving in a capricious manner." However, I think of whimsical I think about soft images and a place where ones thoughts could run in any direction. This is why the setting in Changing Tides has always seemed whimsical to me despite being the backdrop for some pretty major issues Mira, the main character, is dealing with.

The following is my original opening, which I have since altered and added to:

My gaze strayed out across the horizon and the great pulsing force my grandmother referred to as the sea. The waves rolled up the beach as I walked leaving the sand smooth and wet. It clung to my toes in great knobby-growths, thick and sticky, until the next wave washed over my ankles and carried the whole mass out to sea in it's wake. The cool breeze blowing in made my hair stream out behind me in a flickering golden-wave; it sharp fingers ripped through my sweater, flitting over my skin. Turning I could see where the waves washed away my tracks. It was as if I'd never walked there, the beach a soft unbroken expanse and that suited me fine. My grandmother hadn't seemed to care how many hours I spent out here. "Go on," she's day, smiling. "The Sea gets in your blood. It was in your father's blood." She giggled, "It was all I could do to get him to come in for meals."

Note: The photo above was take in Ontario from the shore of Lake Simco at sunset.


  1. Hm,... now I´m a bit confused. As a foreigner, I know the word whimsical mainly from my English-German dictionary. It has indeed a wide range of meanings in there, friendly and not so friendly ones. And where I found it used, I actually always loved it as a word, both for this flexibility in use, its richdom of connotations, as well as for its looks and sound. But the way you use it here is quite new for me, and I´m not sure if I got it at all...

    Anyway, all concerning Mira´s current whereabouts evokes the powerful and slightly melancholy mood of the sea in me, this atmosphere of special places that represent a gate in the borders towards some kind of otherworld, the world of forgotten memories and the subconscious unity of all beings for example...

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  3. Now I'm curious Heathbird, what words does your dictionary have?

    I know I was surprised when I looked up the meaning in my dictionary and found it meant so little, but in the second meaning "acting or behaving in a capricious manner," there is a lot more possibilities. I looked up capricious and it's definition was "given to sudden changes of mood or behaviour."

    When I think of the word whimsical I have always pictured the wind light heartedly flitting here and there a bit playful and rarely serious and yet intent and yes, sometimes melancholy... it always seems very abstract to me. I too love the way it sounds though.

    I'm so glad you got the exact intent of my excerpt. It is indeed a back drop reflecting Mira's feelings and becomes the entrance later into the past as the layers in time shift and she sees a galleon from the 1600's with men on board through the mist. It also becomes the place where she escapes the modern world and has the space to sort out her feelings and make some important decisions.

  4. Well, then I´m glad too, Léonie!

    Concerning the meaning of "whimsical": the explanation in my English-English dictionary sounds indeed much like the one you found. It says "unusual and rather playful; capricious but charming".

    I wonder if there is any sense in (back-)translating for you what is in my English-German dictionary. It may have a similar disastrous and confusing result like telling a friend what he told about a friend... Anyway, as you ask, I´ll at least try to do it. Literally translated, it reads like this:
    1. moody, subject to moods;
    strange, eccentric, grumpy;
    2. cranky, crotchety;
    3. humorous, witty.

    Now, does that make sense? °?^