It’s a blistering almost-summers day, dappled patterns playing across the lawn, as sunlight escapes through the gaps in the leaves of the trees bordering the garden. A mistlethrush, his mellow spotted chest flitting in and out of view, calls out cheerfully into the refreshing breeze, the wind playfully snatching at his verbose chatter.
I’m sat under the overhanging branches of a young oak tree on my hands and knees, scooping deliciously cold soil into an old plastic bowl. I ought to be inside. I ought to be crouching over my weathered desk, feverishly pushing the little sharp end of my ball-point pen into the fibres of a painfully plain, sheet of white paper, my brain whirring away, eyes concentrating hard on the inky black squiggles known to us as letters and numbers.
Oh how beautifully blissful that all sounds…right? Surely the promise of higher grades and systematically processed knowledge trumps clean, fresh air and the feel of soft, cool soil beneath the palms of your hands. No? – then let’s carry on digging around in this garden of mine. I was on my way to such “work” earlier, when I was stopped and handed a small, segmented brown object, patterned and glinting in the sunlight as it sat in the centre of my hand, slightly dulled by a coating of moist mud.
This may sound sinister but it seems that a side effect of showing your love of the natural world to your family is being handed anything found anywhere that looks remotely natural and asked “what in heavens name is this alien?” and “how did it come upon our abode?”, to which my replies of “that’s a ball of soiled fluff” and “that is the elusive predatory twig” gain gasps of “no?!?”, and “are you sure?”.
Now, being only 19 years of age, I immediately rushed up the stairs and, heart beating, pulled out a variety of frayed butterfly and moth identification manuals (yup…I don’t follow trends, I set them…). It took me at least ten minutes of flicking through the picture filled pages to realise that…I would have to use an iPad. I hear cries of blasphemy and anguish I know but unfortunately the world of technology has cornered me and there’s no escape.
Five minutes later and I narrowed it down to either an Angle Shades Moth or a Brown Pointed Moth pupae- the latter is what I decided on given that this particular pupae was found in the soil and upon me handling it the small tail twitched ever so slightly. However this capsule of life is still very much a mystery until it breaks free – with several hawk and Sphinx moth varieties floating around my head when attempting to identity it. Having only raised froglets before and unsuccessfully butterflies many years previously, I thought it fascinating to witness the emergence of this beauty.
I sprinted – I say sprinted, perhaps “energised shuffle” is more accurate- down the dry garden path to the small dilapidated shed living at the back, and after wrestling with a stubborn door I successfully captured a small fish tank. And here’s where we come to the excited figure of me, digging away – with my hands, since I cannot for the life of me find a spade – at the earth in order to provide a home for my little moth.
Of course an adventure in the soil renders treasures untold; for example, two finely segmented gold centipedes coiling away as they escaped my brutish hands (this seems harsh but I really was going for it), and a rather indignant meal worm.
Once I had covered the tanks floor in a shallow depth of soil I searched around – my head providing a landing pad for an Orange Tip butterfly at one point – and collected some twigs and sticks; these would allow the little fellow to climb out of its cocoon and slowly spread its wings, pumping blood into them as it builds to an iconic Hugh Jackman-esque raising of them in glory and becoming ready for….but I’m getting ahead of myself. There’s no Mothra as of yet. Just a small pupae. Sleeping soundly in the bed of soil in the tank, waiting for the day it becomes the most fabulous rendition of itself.
I shall call it…Pixie.
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The post is meant to dramatically end there but I should say I went through Moth ball, Moonshine, Mapel, Chocolate, Flutter and Dinner as names….and names are not normally dished out to the moth kind I simply have an absence of moth rearing experience combined with an overactive imagination fuelled by the intense devouring of fantasy fiction.
Also. That, ladies and gentleman, is me signing off on my first post after 2 years of no material. Oh how you must have suffered whilst I was gone…rather too dramatic I’m sure no one really noticed I was actually gone but my ego requires I write this.
That was a joke I haven’t got a large ego. I’m just hilarious.