Friday, July 19, 2013

Filberts, Fardels, and a Rambling Lemming

"Then & Now: From Filberts to Hazelnuts"
The Agriculture Quarterly, Oregon Department of Agriculture

"Did you know that the entire U.S. hazelnut crop is grown in the Pacific Northwest? Most U.S. grown hazelnuts are produced in Oregon's Willamette Valley with a small portion coming from Whatcom County, Washington. Hazelnut trees experience an alternate year bearing cycle which accounts for much of the fluctuation in yield from year to year, but the market is generally considered strong and the Oregon hazelnut industry is healthy and growing....

"...The Oregon Filbert Commission was established in 1951. Oregon Filberts were mostly sold in the shell to local consumers. In 1950, Oregon harvested 5,350 tons of filberts for a value of $1,872,000...."

Don't bother looking for the Oregon Filbert Commission. It's not there any more. Or, rather, it's operating under an alias.

They changed the name to the Oregon Hazelnut Commission in 1994. Folks in Europe like filberts, but they call them hazelnuts. Tomayto, tomahto, not that filberts have anything to do with Fred Astair. Apart from starting with the letter "f," that is, and the Lemming has more to say about filberts and fardles.

Filberts, French, and "Ph"

We call hazelnuts filberts because nois de Filbert means "nut of Philibert" in Old French. Saint Philibert's feast day is in late August, which is when hazelnuts ripen. Philibert's name got a "Ph" somewhere along the line, but the hazlenut didn't. (the Free Online Dictionary)

Or maybe we call those things filberts because filu means many and beraht means bright in Old High German. Then again, maybe not.

The Lemming ran into something about Old High German, red currants, and St. John, too: so maybe there is an Old High German connection, although red currants aren't hazelnuts and St. John's feast day is in June.

None of that has much do do with Fred Astair, filberts, or what the Lemming was looking for, which is a picture of filberts.

Life is Just a Bowl of - Filberts?!

(Bowl of hazelnuts, Vicki Nunn, via Wikimedia Commons, used w/o permission)


"...In 1995, evidence of large-scale Mesolithic nut processing, some 9,000 years old, was found in a midden pit on the island of Colonsay in Scotland. The evidence consists of a large, shallow pit full of the remains of hundreds of thousands of burned hazelnut shells. Hazelnuts have been found on other Mesolithic sites, but rarely in such quantities or concentrated in one pit..."

The Lemming finds Mesolithic nut processing fascinating. Your experience may vary.

A Fardel by Any Other Name


"A corruption of Middle English ferthe del (literally 'fourth part'), equivalent to fourth +‎ deal. Cognate with Dutch vierendeel ('a fourth part, quarter'), German Viertel ('a quarter, fourth'), Danish fjerdedel ('a quarter'), Swedish fjÀrdedel ('a fourth, quarter')...."

"...From Middle English fardel, from Old French fardel ('pack, bundle'), from Spanish fardel, diminutive of fardo ('pack, bundle'), from Arabic (fardah, 'a package')...."

A bag of filberts could be a fardel, but that's probably not what Shakespeare had in mind when he wrote this Brobdingnagian sentence for Hamlet:

"To die,-to sleep,-
To sleep! perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub;
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come,
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause:11 There's the respect
That makes calamity of so long life;
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
The oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely,
The pangs of despised love, the law's delay,
The insolence of office, and the spurns
That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? Who would fardels bear,
To groan and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscovered country, from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will,
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
("Hamlet," Act III Scene 1, Shakespeare, via

That heading, "A Fardle by Any Other Name" would be funnier, if "a [blank] by any other name" came from Hamlet. Hamlet isn't particularly funny, by the way. By the time it's over King Hamlet, Polonius, Ophelia, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, Gertrude, Hamlet, Laertes, and Claudius are dead: variously poisoned, stabbed, or drowned.

That phrase is from another Shakespeare play: one with a slightly lower body count. Only Mercutio, Tybalt, Paris, Romeo, and Juliet get poisoned or stabbed. Lady Montague dies of grief.

Juliet says "a rose ... by any other name" in "Romeo and Juliet." It's part of this rather nice soliloquy:

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.

Toward the end of that play Juliet impersonates a corpse, Romeo says "Here's to my love" and drinks poison, Juliet wakes up and stabs herself - and this is romantic?!

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