December 5, 2021

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Word + Quiz: resplendent

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: shining bright with great beauty

The word resplendent has appeared in 42 articles on NYTimes.com in the past year, including on June 27 in the Opinion essay “I Was in Love With a Tree That Swallowed the Sky” by Laura Hillenbrand:

On an autumn day, I finally arrived. One of the first things to arrest me was the Norway maple in the backyard. It was an exuberant explosion of a tree, its foliage so full that the branches kissed the ground. Each summer, the tree bounded outward in all directions, growing perhaps two feet; each fall, its torrent of huge orange leaves whirled through the air like laughter. The tree was so in love with life that it swallowed the sky.

… Last summer, a neighbor stopped me. He said the tree was overawing his yard, devouring his arbor and eclipsing the rivers and mountain. People live here for this view. I knew I had no right to deprive him of it. Heartsick, I asked if I could give the tree one more season. He said yes.

An arborist suggested felling the tree, but I couldn’t do it. He said he could cut it far back. It wouldn’t look good, he said, but it would survive.

He came on a sultry morning four weeks ago. I stood on the deck and whispered my apology to the tree. It was especially resplendent that morning, the leaves glittering and scattering light, casting shade on the sweat-shining men gathered beside it.

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