Monday, December 06, 2010

ABC Wednesday
The letter this week is U
....which stands for Ungulate

An Ungulate is any hoofed animal, - a hoof being an enlarged toenail.

Why hooves?

Hooves are usually broad and flexible, and the animal can walk and dig even in thick snow.  Because the animal walks and runs on its toes the rest of the foot extends up into the leg, making the leg particularly long and increasing the swiftness of their stride. The ungulate we are going to consider today lives in the cold arctic tundra, is capable of surviving in extremely cold weather and in places where food is not plentiful.  They eat plants and lichens and are the only deer that can be domesticated.

Of course you have already guessed, -  the most popular Ungulate of the season is the reindeer, a majestic mammal from the arctic and subarctic, some of whom have taken up with Santa Claus at the North Pole, become magical creatures and fly his sleigh through the skies on Christmas Eve, landing on rooftops to give Santa access to chimneys and other modes of entry where both good and naughty children live.

Good children are supposedly left toys, and naughty kids gets lumps of coal in their stockings, I'm told, although it never happened to me (smirk).

The Reindeer, au natural, feeding on the tundra of the north and using its strong hooves to dig up sustenance from the frozen ground.

Reindeer, beloved of Santa and with star dust sprinkled on them which enables them to
fly through the air (so I have been told).

In the poem 'A Visit from Saint Nicholas' (attributed to Clement Moore)  the poet mentions a sleigh pulled by eight reindeer.

"The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,'
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer.
With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be Saint Nick.

More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name.
'Now Dasher, now Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!
On Comet! on Cupid! on, Dunder and Blixem!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!'

Santa and his reindeer as  depicted in 1862
when this poem was first published.

I know this all to be true, as does any child of northern climes where winters are snowy and a quick trip outside on Christmas morning will still show you the mark of the reindeers'  hooves and the runners of Santa's sleigh in the snow.**

For more fanciful U's visit here at ABC Wednesday

**depending upon how early the milkman came with his horse drawn sleigh (yes, I lived that long ago!)


Strawberry Jam Anne said...

What a lovely choice, especially for the time of year. And I have learned about ungulates! A x

Roger Owen Green said...

informative AND seasonal.

ROG, ABC Wednesday team

Jingle said...

lovely post, poem is cute.

Sylvia K said...

I think it's amazing when two people come up with the same very different word, but perhaps it's the season!! And I learned more about ungulates! And such a lovely one for the season indeed! Hope your week is going well! Enjoy!


photowannabe said...

Santa and his visiting reindeer. How clever usage of the letter U.
Cute P.S. at the bottom..milkman (made me smile)

Penny said...

Here in Australia rumour has it that it is too hot for the ungulates (reindeer) and they turn into six white boomers (large male kangaroos, who are marsupials)!

Reader Wil said...

Always a pleasure to visit here! This is a very appropriate post about reindeer and the season of Christmas! Lovely, thank you!

J Bar said...

Great post.

Tumblewords: said...

A lovely seasonal U! So glad you didn't get coal in your stocking! :)

Carver said...

What a great post for the season and the letter U. The photographs are all wonderful as is the narrative.

RuneE said...

A U-post that is definitely in-season!

Vasi said...

Story images!

Cezar and Léia said...

So poetic post, it's wonderful!
Brilliant idea for this theme!

Mara said...

There's a great children's book about how Santa started out. It's written by Lucy Daniel Raby and it's called: Nicholas of the North. You can read a chapter a day and be finished on Christmas Day! I recommend it even to adults.

Cheryl said...

Loved that **. You are too funny! Great U. I'm wondering if I'll ever forget ungulate after reading this.

Probably. I have a mind like a sieve.

Dimple said...

Wonderful! I was in a small women's chorus some years ago, and one year we learned that song. It was fun to sing!

Beverley Baird said...

When I saw Santa and the reindeer, I thought your choice was "Up, up and away!
Don't know if I should tell you, but when I lived in the NWT, reindeer was raised for meat!
I prefer them pulling sleighs!
Great post for the week!

Wanda..... said...

I will certainly make sure my youngest granddaughter sees your lovely post, Hildred!