Friday, 13 February 2009

Paraskavedekatriaphobia ...

Fear always springs from ignorance.

Ralph Waldo Emerson


The word describing the fear of Friday the 13th, the title of this post, is a word derived from the concatenation of the Greek words Paraskeví (meaning Friday), and dekatreís (meaning thirteen), attached to phobía (meaning fear). This is a specialized form of "Triskaidekaphobia", a simple phobia of the number thirteen. There endeth the Wiki-reference, for what it's worth. Now let's get on with the reason for the post.

Since my perceptive readership will not have missed the fact that this is/was posted on Friday the 13th, I expect you want to know the reason. That's an easy one; I should have stayed in bed, like all discerning Paraskavedekatriaphobes probably did today!

Flashback. I remember the mild apprehension that Wyndham's Triffids induced in my youthful psyche, and even if I can say without fear of contradiction that that particular sci-fi hasn't troubled me as an adult, it appears there are lingering vestiges buried deep in my subconscious.

I am no 'tree-hugger', but I do enjoy their beauty and grace and will go to great lengths not to harm or destroy one. Nevertheless, on days when a high wind animates them more than their gentle rustling I can't help feeling that there is a malevolence about a tree when I am in close proximity to one on a windy day. Almost as if they want, like their sci-fi cousins the Triffids, to take a step in my direction and crush the life out of me. A bit fanciful? Perhaps!

The weather here in Portugal has taken a turn for the better. Bright sunlight and the temps into the high teens. But on the night of the 12th the departing wind decided to give us enough of a blow to remind us that it will return later in the year. The dog and I took our usual walk and were surprised by the amount of debris on the green and in the park. A couple of trees down and the remnants of the winter clothing of the eucalyptus trees strewn over just about every square metre of pathway.


Off with the old, on with the new.
Off with the old, on with the new.
Old shredded bark stripped away. New layers ready for the spring!


Walking the green, quite unconcerned, I gave silent thanks that all this happened during the night when we were safely tucked up in bed, and not now. Here is a poor resolution shot (phonecam, low-res) of one casualty ...


Right across my path.
Right across my path.


When I looked at this tree lying right across the path I and the dog normally traverse, I had this feeling that had the tree been a bit smarter, and a bit quicker in its movement, it might well have made short work of decapitating me. Darn, but a seed of doubt was sown in my mind as to whether the trees were out to get me!

The dog and I strolled on to the end of our walk, the place where the tramp usually pitched his tent, when there was an almighty crack behind us followed by a subdued thump where the branch of another tree hit the ground. Right on the spot where the dog and I had been only moments ago!

Jeez, these critters were getting smarter - and quicker!


The dog can speak volumes. I think he is telling me I am dumb to stay any longer!
The dog can speak volumes.
I think he is telling me I am a 'dumbass' to stay any longer!


There was no wind, the sun was shining, and all was right with the world. So you have to ask why that particular tree saved up that branch to hurl at me and the dog just then.

Paranoid? Perhaps! But here's fair warning; don't speak, or even think evil about the trees around you.

They know, you know ...

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jinksy said...

I'm SO jealous - why didn't the dictionary give me your lovely version of triscadecaphobia when I looked for the spelling yesterday? Fovouritism, that's what I call it. No wonder trees spent the day trying to nobble you...

Fletch said...

I know I allowed my paranoia to run away with me, Penny, but when a dirty great branch thumps to the ground moments after you've left the spot, you have to wonder!!

I'll take the necessary precautions in future, but I shan't deprive myself or the dog of our daily 'walkies'.

CrazyCath said...

You could always look on the bright side and see it as the tree unable to hold onto the branch any longer... but held on for a few seconds more so as not to damage you.

Darn. You got me giving trees personalities now! Gotta dash - the carnations are calling...

david mcmahon said...

I didn't know there was a word for it, El Tel.

And yes, I'd like to see you post more often for reasons such as this piece of writing.

Fletch said...


"Glass half empty or glass half full?"

I'll take your lead and assume the tree was giving me the benefit of the doubt. 'Tree-personalities' I can just about tolerate, but I shall draw the line under giving them names!


Fletch said...

Thanks David.

An accolade from the "Master Wordsmith" is praise indeed.

I shall go away and compose ...

Merisi said...

If a branch thumps to the ground moments after you've left the spot means that it was a lucky day for you! :-)

I came over from David's, congratulations on the POD award!

Jeni said...

Congrats on the Post of the Day from David! Great job, Terry!

Fletch said...

Thanks Merisi.

Every cloud has the proverbial silver lining!

But ...

Fletch said...

Hi Jeni,

Long time "No hear", but good to see you're still on the circuit.

Imagine getting a 'POTD' mention! Now that's a Wooo-Hooo!

Lee said...

Good morningl, Terry.

Great writing as ucual. You're one of those story tellers whose skills make me wonder what I'm doing on blogs of note instead of you.

I'm so glad the tree held it's limb. Of course, I'm one of those folk who think that the might of a blow is God's power on display and that is so exciting that I choose to sit on a porch with something warm to drink and watch him play with the earth. It's something my dad, sis, and I used to do every time a storm blew in.

That trail picture with the highrise in the background helped me gain a much clearer perspective of the area you live in. I'd come to think of you as being in the country because of all the property shots from earlier posts.

Belated Happy Valentine's day! Hope you and the Missus had a good one.

Fletch said...

Thanks for the good wishes, Lee, and the compliments, too!

We live in a built-up urban (city) area surrounded by 'high-rise' in any direction as far as the eye can see. One reason for enjoying the two little patches of green in our locality.

When one considers this, the move to 'country-life' becomes even more desirable with each passing day.

But there is now the global credit crunch to overcome.

We shall.

lmerie said...

Over from David's . . .
Great post, things that make you go hmmmm . . .

Congrats on POTD!

Sandi McBride said...

OMG...I hadn't thought about The Triffids in years...doggone it! Now I've got THAT image in my head again!
Oh, and congrats on POTD from David...

Fletch said...

@ Imerie

And when you go "hmmmm . . ." it conjures up other 'shadowy' things, too! Thanks for the congrats. Good man, that David!


@ Sandi

That's how I felt. Hadn't thought about Triffids in ages, and there I was suddenly feeling surrounded ...!!

Thanks for the congrats.

The Vengeance said...

I am right there with you. They're all out to get us... all this global warming has finally gone too far, in their opinion. It's time to get rid of the source.... us!!
I saw your post on authorblog and thought I'd stop by. You can visit me at

Fletch said...

Hi Vengeance.

Thanks for the comment. I am sure they will adapt far quicker than we, and will survive long after we're gone!

Visited your 'dark' page and left a comment.

Shrinky said...

Yikes, scary stuff! I do worry when our glen is hit by storms, our trees are very old, they often topple. I usually take a careful inspection the morning after the worst blows over, warning the kids to say well clear until given the green light.

The worst thing is, although the glen has right of way for walkers, it is OUR reponsiblity to ensure it is safe. Any felling or removal falls to us, but only with permission from the forestry commission (all trees there are protected). Thank God the glen is small, the last tree we were instructed to remove cost over a thousand pounds - I jest you not! Glad you escaped unscathed, and yes, tread warily, be afraid!

Fletch said...

Ah, the joys of being a 'landowner', Carol. Fortunately, this is common land and not my resposibility.

"... be afraid!" Sheesh! Now you're colluding with the trees.

But I take your point.

mihalis-halkida said...

Hello my name is Michael. I have seen your blog and it is perfect. We follow your blog from Greece and I wish you good fun and joy
A simple life, simple happiness
Greetings. Michael

Fletch said...

Efharisto (I hope I got that right!) Michael.

I cannot agree with "perfect", but I am still very pleased with the comment.

I would be honoured if you continue following, all the way from Greece, but the internet makes it a small world in any case.

Count Sneaky said...

Trees can't come to you. They have to wait until you come to them...then,take this you rootless, wood-using, #@!*!.
Count Sneaky



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