When I was a child — maybe 7 or 8 — and spending summer days at my grandmother’s house, we would have a new word every day. I got to pick. It had to be a word I didn’t know, and over the course of the day, I would learn its meaning and spelling. One of the words was “yucca.” I remember that. I must have liked the sound of it.
The words were written down on a scrap piece of paper. My grandmother thought purchasing notepads was a waste of money and instead would save single-sided junk mail to write on the back. On Friday, there would be five words and their definitions written in my grandmother’s pointy cursive.
I loved our new words. I was a weird kid that way. I already had a thing for books and stories and language. So we learned new words and baked cookies and pies and bread from scratch, which also met with my approval. Especially the bread. Even as a kid I knew that homemade bread was better than everything.
Today I came across a word: leporine. I had to look it up. It means rabbit-like. I looked for a scrap of paper to write it down. Grandma, who isn’t doing quite so well anymore, would approve of “leporine,” and she would make me spell it.