In Larry McMurtry’s novel Lonesome Dove, Gus — one of the best characters in American literature, if you ask me — posts a sign at the entrance to the ranch he co-owns. He thinks the sign lacks a certain respectability, so he selects a Latin phrase at random from a book, and adds it to the sign, just below the disclaimer, “We Don’t Rent Pigs.” The phrase he copies: “Uva uvam vivendo varia fit.”
Before I knew that the Latin was replete with errors, I asked a friend to look into the phrase’s meaning. She asked a college-level Latin teacher, who apparently glanced at it, recognized it, and replied, “A grape earns its color by leading a grape’s life.”
I loved it. Or, rather, I did until I learned that ol’ Gus apparently wasn’t much good at copying Latin, and that it’s unlikely that the original phrase meant anything of the sort … if indeed it meant anything. (This is fiction, after all.)
But I still love the translation, accurate or not. To me, it means that experience is the proper reward for a life of diligence. Diligence to a job, a calling, a way of life. That’s what I hope to share with you here: more than two decades of website design experience. I hope you’ll agree that I’ve earned my color.
For more on this peculiar phrase, see this related post from another blog.