Joe’s Journal

A Rambling Quest ...

Ramblings from an old scribbler
Wed, 02/28/2024 - 7:00am

    The other day, I ran into Dick Kellogg at the post office. "You are a smart guy. You should be able to answer this question," he said.

    I looked at him and wondered – me?

    Dick is a retired research scientist from the University of Maryland. They sent him to the French/Swiss border to work on the Hadron Collider, the world's most powerful particle accelerator that seeks to discover the fundamental building blocks of the universe. I thought, if this bonafide smart guy doesn’t know the answer, why should I?

    Dick said he was talking to Mary, his wife, about a rotting birch log near his home. He said he told her it was dose.

    Mary said she didn’t know what he was talking about. She said she had never heard the word dose.

    Now, Dick grew up in East Boothbay and studied at the blackboard of the legendary teacher, Hope Updegraff. He learned how to dig worms before he discovered a slide rule.When he was a kid he said he heard the old timers use the word dose to describe a rotting birch tree.

    I told him I had heard of folks dowsing, searching for water using a stick, and how you should always douse a campfire before leaving a campsite, but I had never heard the word dose used that way.

    I asked him how do you spell it. He said he didn't know. Why don’t you find out, he said.

    OK, I thought. I can always turn a strange nugget into a column, so I opened my new laptop and asked Ms. Google. She didn’t know, but after scrolling for dozens of pages, I did run into an ancient British family named Dowsey. But that was no help to me.

    It was time to search the old-fashioned way, and I opened the Oxford English Dictionary. My OED is the cheap version that squeezed the multi-volume work into two volumes with print so tiny it comes complete with a magnifying glass. But, alas, the OED was not much help.

    FYI: Newspaper reporters don’t know everything. Over my career, I was assigned to write about many unfamiliar topics, so I learned to find experts who could help me understand the subject.

    Kellogg asked about a birch tree, so I called the University of Maine Forestry School. After I navigated the dreaded auto-call response system, a human answered and suggested I call Keith Kanoti, the guy who manages the University of Maine forests. I called him, and he had never heard the word dose but knew a retired professor who might.

    He told me to call Al Kimball, and I did.

    For the next 20 minutes, I enjoyed a pleasant chat with an old woods guy who said he was lucky enough to live on two acres off the road in Woolwich. Al said he was OK, other than having a few health issues.

    We chatted about our shared love of fly fishing. He prefers little brookies that are small enough to fit in a 9-inch fry pan and that he catches in a stream not far from Jackman in the north county. I told him one of my pals had a question about a word, dose, that old-timers would use to describe fallen birch logs in the forest.

    He said he didn’t know a thing about the word dose, and our phone visit continued. While praising the virtues of homemade mince pies made with venison and not the canned gooey stuff you get in a supermarket, he stopped.

    “What was I thinking? The word is not dose. It is dough-z. I have heard that word in the woods. When a white birch tree falls in the forest and decays, some folks say it is dough-z,” he said.

    How is it spelled? I asked.

    Al said he didn't know, but he said your friend is pronouncing it wrong. It is dough-z, not dose.

    After finding we shared a love of spring fly fishing for bluegills in farm ponds, we ended the chat.

    So, Dr. Kellogg, there you have it. You can tell Mary you were not making it up. But, it is not dose, it is dough-z.

    Don’t ask me how to spell it, Al didn’t know, and I don’t either. He said it is pronounced dough-z. It sort of sounds like Doozy. Like your new car is a real beauty, a doozy.

    When a birch log starts to rot, some people call it getting punk, while others might say it is dough-z.

    Dear reader, have you ever heard a word that is pronounced: dough-z? Let me know online in the comments section. Thanks.

    And, if you, dear reader, stuck with me this long, you earned a gold star.

    Thanks for reading.