RDP Friday: DAMP
Middle English (in the noun sense ‘noxious inhalation’); related to a Middle Low German word meaning ‘vapor, steam, smoke.’
We’ve certainly had more than our fair share of dampness this year. Last I checked, we’re over 13 inches compared to the norm for summer here in my little corner of Pennsylvania. That’s a lot of water.
There’s sunshine with the clouds today, though, and it’s wonderful to see. Lifts the spirits.
I’m thinking of another use of damp, though. I remember, long ago when I was maybe 8 or younger, we were on our way to Colorado to visit my dad’s family. We had stopped somewhere in Kansas or Nebraska to have breakfast, and I can’t remember the exact context, but I heard my dad say something like, “Damp the fire.” I was shocked right out of my mind, because I thought he had said “DAMN the fire!”
He never swore. Ever. I was so shocked! I remember standing there like a deer in the headlights, not knowing what to do or where to go. He glanced up, must have seen the stunned look on my face, and asked if I was okay. What do you say in response? No, I didn’t know either.
What I do remember is that I got tears in my eyes, and he was completely puzzled. I finally was able to tell him that I thought he’d said a bad word. Now he was the one to look shocked. Not for long, though. In fact, suddenly he was snorting with laughter.
When he explained what he had actually said, I felt SO much better 🙂 But then he had to explain what it meant to damp the fire, and he often had a really interesting way of explaining things. He talked about being out in the desert, building a fire to cook something or the other, and then damping it.
So I understood what a damper was for when Terry and I had a fireplace later on, and I was glad to know how to control the fire by turning the damper one way or another.
Funny the things that a single little word can stir in one’s memory.