SONGS OF NATURE
A Virtual Winter Getaway:
Winged Creatures Reborn
Hmmm, what would I do without the snapshots of wondrous winged creatures that brighten up these long winter days which so test my patience?
It is around this time of year, in the midst of a January deep freeze, that I begin to count the days until nature emerges from its winter slumber. It seems I am not the only one as there is a “My Countdown” website with a live, digital countdown until the first day of spring. As of this moment, it is 53 days, 3 hours and 56 minutes.
In the meantime, I resort to my collection of butterfly photographs from last summer to escape the cold and snow and the lingering aftermath of the epic December ice storm.
The American Lady butterfly perched delicately on a purple Everlasting wildflower is a good place to start. The two large eyespots on the outer wing, flanked by a splattering of pink, gaze owl-like at me if I twist my head to just the right angle. The rusted orange of the forewing, giving way to white-spotted black wingtips, recalls the warmth of the summer sun on my face.
Next I stop at the elegant specimen of a Gray Comma which I found at secret hot spot I choose to keep to myself. It was obviously newly emerged as the gracefully scalloped wing edges, highlighted by the soft yellow spot band, were picture perfect. It reclined so cooperatively, on a curling green leaf, for me to take its’ picture – as if it knew even then I would need to savour its subtle graces a few months down the line.
And, of course, I cannot pass by the striking image of a Great Spangled Fritillary posing so nonchalantly on a purple flower. No other creature boasts such an audacious explosion of orange. The rippling black ridges and white checkerboard wing edges complete the portrait of a winged beauty that knows no equal in these parts.
Hairstreak butterflies, a rare find, are always a delight. I recall precisely the location I flushed this specimen from the tall grass off a boardwalk. It is the antithesis of the Fritillary with its soft beige colouring streaked with splotchy, white edged spots and faint orange bars at the edges. Hairstreaks remind me that beauty is not always extravagant.
The White Admiral intergrade – the result of White Admirals mating with their Red-spotted Purple cousins – reminds me that even nature decides to be creative now and then. This cross-breed, boasting a flashy white band between clusters of orange cells, is certainly a successful experiment.
A Silver-spotted Skipper dashing about a meadow brightens up many days when it has otherwise been slim pickings. This one is ideally perched on a purple wildflower (hmmm, I detect a pattern here) to show off its bright white and amber patches on a tree-trunk brown wing.
I have many cold and gray winter days to endure yet before nature rouses itself and turns the corner to the more leisurely seasons. My butterfly photos are snapshots in time – metaphors for the exuberance and extravagance of scorching July days – to assure me that summer will come once again if I am patient.
Patience, as I have said many times, is not my strong suit. But I will endure. I know the wait is more than worth it. I treasure July days all the more for the winter months that separate me from them for a season.
~ Michael Robert Dyet is the author of “Until the Deep Water Stills – An Internet-enhanced Novel” – double winner in the Reader Views Literary Awards 2009. Visit Michael’s website at www.mdyetmetaphor.comor the novel online companion at www.mdyetmetaphor.com/blog.
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