I wanted to do something lapidary for tonight’s tasting note. I make no claims to writing gems – I am not much of one for self-spruiking – but at least I am not prone to alalia (speechlessness). So I have found this elegantly euphonious name of a mineral. It may even have something of the animal in it: specifically, a wing – ala – and a light one at that. So I’ll alight on it.
Its initial ala is especially to my liking because those are the initials of someone lovely and likeable (and light) to whom I was wed 15 years ago; today has been our anniversary. But it also has a little alliteration internally with those two licks of the tongue, and to the eyes it seems a specially strong seal of approval, A1 A1. I also like the little light in the middle right, the candle of the i.
But what light of the alalite through yonder window breaks? What colour is this rock? It is, it seems, a light – or not-so-light – green, that loveliest of colours, shade of the forest and of the best eyes. But alalite is a sort of diopside, or perhaps it is just another name for diopside – the sources are conflicting and uncertain on this – and diopside, though mainly various shades of green, can also be blue, brown, white, grey, or colourless. It can also be clear or cloudy. Very helpful, isn’t that? Anyway, it’s MgCaSi2O6. Magnesium, calcium, silicon, oxygen. Four things you are sure to have in your kitchen, but not in purified form, just in foods, supplements, or implements – or atmosphere. And not in this combination.
And where does this name come from? The Ala valley in Piedmont, Italy, where this variety of diopside was first identified. So it is a green stone of a mountain valley, and its name sounds like echoing yodeling. I like it – I delight in it. I do not have the stone, but I have the name, and it is illuminating (even elating) enough.