I found this beautiful creature close to our door the other day. Sadly, it was dead. Or maybe not, I thought and brought it into the house, where I tried to give it water. And hoped it was either resting or momentarily stunned.
I left it on the kitchen bench overnight. The following day, as it hadn’t moved, I had to accept that it was dead.
It’s a rare Jersey Tiger Moth (Euplagia quadripunctaria). It flies both day and night, attracted at night towards artificial light, like most moths and likes to visit flowers such as Buddleia and thistles. I’ve several Buddleia in my garden and I’ve spotted a Jersey Tiger Moth on one of them several times this year. I’ve also seen one trapped in a parking lot, fluttering at a light and managed to free it through a door.
I’m mighty pleased that I’ve created an environment in the middle of a town which attracts such rare and beautiful creatures.
The species was until recently restricted to the Channel Islands (if you’re French, Les Iles Normandes) and parts of the south coast. On the UK mainland it is commonest in Devon, but they are being spotted in Dorset, the Isle of Wight, other southern counties and even London.
I’m mighty pleased with myself to have created an environment in the middle of a town which attracts such rare and beautiful creatures.
This image is of the Large White – a butterfly – (Pieris brassicae). It’s also known as the Cabbage White and is the scourge of allotmenteers and vegetable growers as it eats holes into and lays eggs on the leaves of cabbages and other brassicae. I was complaining recently to one of my neighbours at the allotment – a salty ex-sea dog – that despite the butterfly netting cloche I’d surrounded my cabbages with, I had found one fluttering about inside.
“I hope you stamped on it!” he returned, two livid spots appearing in each of his sunburned cheeks.
“No, I carried it across to your plot and put it on one of your kale plants.”
We joke like that. I was getting him back for him laughing at me painting my new composting area (a shabby chic affair of nine wooden pallets screwed and hinged together and now in faded shades of green, purple and red). And I didn’t put the butterfly on his brassicae, but I didn’t stamp on it either.
Now this is the odd bit of the tale. I had laid the Jersey Tiger on a square of kitchen roll and left it overnight on the kitchen bench in the hope it would revive. The following afternoon, lying next to it was a cocoon. I looked to see where it might have come from, to no avail, as they say. On closer inspection, I thought I could see a butterfly folded within. Or was it my imagination?
“There’s a butterfly flying round your kitchen.”
It was the following afternoon and it was the lovely lady who comes once a fortnight to sort out the mess I make round the house. She was just leaving, so I waved her off and on returning to the kitchen, I released the butterfly into nature via the window. It was a Cabbage White. I inspected the cocoon next to the Jersey Tiger and it was broken open and empty. Then I remembered that I’d taken a red and a green cabbage from the allotment to a friend, taking off the outer leaves first, for ease of carrying. The cocoon must have been amongst the leaves.
So there it was, in my kitchen, a death and a birth; a little enactment of the mysteries and miracles of birth and death. A tableau vivant, almost, I thought, where costumed characters pose in silence, to illustrate a narrative. At one time, the tableau vivant was a feature of a part of a Mass. Often, a tableau vivant would be modelled on a painting. Here’s a You Tube tableau vivant based on Giotto‘s Lamentation of Christ.
One of my characters was actually dead, the other, about to be born.
The Lord hath taken away and the Lord hath given? Job 1:21 (Well, I’ve switched the quote round, but you know what I mean.
I like to think that this tableau vivant was a sign of auspicious new beginnings; and in truth, I am about to embark on a new adventure. I hope for it to be a window opening onto the expansion of my creative energies.
How are you planning to expand your creativity? Have you had any auspicious signs? I’d like to know.