“We write for the same reason that we walk, talk, climb mountains or swim the oceans – because we can. We have some impulse within us that makes us want to explain ourselves to other human beings. That’s why we paint, that’s why we dare to love someone – because we have the impulse to explain who we are.” — Maya Angelou
Or Turning a Hill Into a Mountain
My grandmother used to tell me not to turn a molehill into a mountain whenever I got upset about something she considered insignificant. It was just one of her many sayings, like you’re going to hell in a handbasket when I did something wrong, or if it was raining but the sun was still shining, she would exclaim, “Well, the devil must be beating his wife.”
She was the only grandparent I ever knew, and she died when I was 11, which makes me wonder why, over a half century later. I can still hear her words in my head. It doesn’t take much to trigger the memories, which is what happened this morning when I was editing a chapter in my book, Travels with Maggie.
I had written about Poteau, Oklahoma, which claims to be home of the world’s tallest hill, despite the fact it’s commonly called Cavanal Mountain. That it’s a hill is based on the geological understanding that a landscape feature is a mountain if it’s 2,000 feet tall, and a hill if it is less than that. Cavanal is 1,999 feet tall.
And before I could move on to reading the next paragraph, my grandmother’s old time sayings were in my head. And then I found myself wanting to know where the phrase “don’t turn a mountain into a molehill” originated, which led me to the Internet.
According to the online encyclopedia, Wikipedia, the phrase dates back to 1548, when Nicholas Udall used it in a translation of the New Testament. He wrote: “The Sophistes of Greece coulde through their copiousness make and an elephant of a flye, and a mountaine of a molehill.” Allegedly (you can’t always believe what you read), the comparison of the elephant with a fly is an old Latin proverb, but the mountain and molehill example was likely coined by Udall himself – and it’s been used ever since.
And the sound of my grandmother telling me, “Don’t turn a mountain into a molehill,” still rings in my head. I wonder where my grandmother first heard the phrase. My wondering mind just never seems to stop.
Bean Pat: Sometimes Once is Enough http://tinyurl.com/jybtbzz A spoonbill, an egret and a great post.