Out of the woods?

中国日报网 2015-07-31 13:45



Reader question:

Out of the woods?

Please explain “out of the woods” this sentence: Does the stock market upswing mean we are out of the woods? What woods?

My comments:

The woods refer to trees and forests.

Not the few trees people plant in the park near you, even if they call it the forest by the lake.

I’m talking about dense, deep, dark and tall trees of the forest of the old days.

The wild forest, yes.

Today, in densely populated cities, we don’t have wilderness any more and so people don’t know how it feels to be left in the woods.

In the old days, however, especially before industrialization, people usually lived near the woods, down the slopes of a mountain and by a river.

When I was young, my grandma used to tell me of the woods they used to have near the village. “There were wild pigs in there,” she used to say, adding “And wolves” to give me a fright.

Sure enough, in her day, her own mother used to scare children by talking about those wolves, saying to the effect that if she or any boy or girl was naughty, she would take them to the woods and come back home alone.

Leaving children in the woods to tamper with wolves?

Parents sure sounded cruel in those days, but you get the point.

In the woods of the past and today in areas where men, or rather humans, are yet to dominate, big game predators such as bears and tigers still thankfully lurch, giving us an idea of what it’s like to be left on our own devices in the deep forest in the wild.

See, to be in the woods is to be in a position of great uncertainty and danger.

Metaphorically speaking, likewise. When they talk about not being out of the woods after the recent upswing in the stock market, they mean to say stock prices may fall yet again.

So beware and be careful. Don’t take your guard off yet.

In other words, don’t sleep so soundly at night, OK?


By the way, this explanation of the concept of being “out of the woods” from Random House Dictionary of Popular Proverbs and Sayings by Gregory Y. Titelman (Random House, New York, 1996):

“Don’t feel safe until you are out of danger. The proverb originated in the United States and has been traced back to ‘Papers of Benjamin Franklin’. It was used by Abigail Adams (1744-1818) in a letter dated November 13, 1800. First attested in England in ‘Hereward the Wake’ by Charles Kingsley (1819-75). The proverb is found in varying forms.”

All right. Media examples:

1. Amy Winehouse’s father claims there was one drug found in the singer's system when she died -- but he insists ... Amy had a prescription for it.

In an interview on Anderson Cooper’s new talk show -- which airs Monday -- Mitch Winehouse admits Amy was taking a drug called Librium, which he describes as a drug for detoxing alcoholics.

According to Mitch, she had a prescription for it -- to help prevent seizures -- and she took one dose daily.

Unfortunately, Mitch says it didn’t work like it was supposed to -- telling Anderson, he believes Amy died from an alcohol detox seizure ... and “there was nobody there to rescue her.”

Mitch still insists there were ZERO illegal drugs in his daughter’s system at the time of her death -- adding, “We really felt we were out of the woods. We saw the light at the end of the tunnel.”

- Home Amy Winehouse’s Dad: Rx Drug In Her System When She Died, TMZ.com, September 9, 2011.

2. Greece’s finance minister Yannis Stournaras is a long-distance swimmer who fixates on goals. As monitors from the EU, European Central Bank (ECB) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) continued on Monday to scour the debt-choked nation’s books – and the president of Cyprus beseeched Athens for help in propping up the island's banks – the macro-economist was in upbeat mood, dismissing talk of rows and ructions, preferring to focus on the target ahead.

“It’s like a marathon; the last kilometres are the most difficult because you are so tired,” said Stournaras, insisting that Greece was close to overcoming its worst crisis in modern times.

There may still be protests – even violence at times – but the country that was almost written off as a euro member state last summer is, he says, finally about to turn the corner.

“To a large extent, Greece is out of the woods. No one talks about Grexit now – even economists who advocated Grexit have apologised for it,” said the Oxford-educated technocrat, who relishes nothing more than a three-hour sea race against himself.

- Greek finance minister: ‘we are out of the woods’, TheGuardian.com, March 11, 2013.

3. Miami Heat star Chris Bosh is trying put his illness behind him, but admits he’s not “out of the woods” just yet.

Bosh spoke exclusively with ABC News’ Matt Gutman in an interview that aired Tuesday morning, hours after he returned to the American Airlines Arena for the first time since his hospitalization.

He said he knew he could no longer ignore the pain he had been playing with while traveling in Haiti during the All-Star break.

“I pretty much suffered for two days and you know on the third day, we came back and I went right to the doctor’s office,” Bosh said. “All I can remember was looking at the doctors and more people start coming in -- never good news.”

Bosh was diagnosed with blood clots and learned they had traveled from his calf to his lungs. The condition kills 100,000 Americans every year and mostly occurs in people with poor circulation, like the elderly and very tall.

The 6-foot-11-inch Heat star became more terrified when he realized it was the same condition blamed for the death of retired NBA player Jerome Kersey just a day before his diagnosis.

“That’s when things started getting really spooky for me,” he said.

Doctors saved Bosh’s life, but the future of his career is still up in the air. He could be cleared to start exercising regularly by the end of the month and be back on the court by the start of the new season in September.

- Chris Bosh opens up in exclusive interview with ABC News, OTWT.net, July 15, 2015.


About the author:

Zhang Xin is Trainer at chinadaily.com.cn. He has been with China Daily since 1988, when he graduated from Beijing Foreign Studies University. Write him at: zhangxin@chinadaily.com.cn, or raise a question for potential use in a future column.


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