Friday, June 3, 2016

Three discoveries #phenology

No sooner was the electronic ink dry on my speculation that it had been a raccoon and not a bear that had raided our oriole/hummingbird feeders than, a mile or so down the road, I encountered a young black bear. Hmmmm! I'm sticking with my original analysis, but adding some second thoughts. Discovering a bear in mid-afternoon, wandering nearer the local farm fields than the forests, was actually the third fun discovery of the past couple of days.

giant leopard moth
Photo by J. Harrington

A few hours before observing the bear, I noticed a giant leopard moth on the front of the house, although at the time I noticed it, I didn't know it was a giant leopard moth. I suspect it's the same one I chased from the kitchen window screen a day or so before that. Observing it from the bottom I couldn't tell what I was seeing and I've learned that photos through screens are often unhelpful. Having a second chance at this discovery brightened a day that had already been enhanced by an initial discovery in the morning of Poor Will's Almanack. No doubt many phenologists are already familiar with this resource. I wasn't until I came across it in a Tweet from?/by? @Living_Almanac. If you haven't read his laws of phenology, take a look. It's a really good read.

So, in the course of an ordinary day or so this week, by paying attention to who and what's happening around me, I've discovered two new pleasures and a very unexpected one to compound the normal joys of life. It's almost enough to make me stop paying attention to politics, but if we all did that, who'd help make sure we had leopard moths and black bears and other phenomena to discover? It is all connected you know.

the lesson of the moth

i was talking to a moth
the other evening
he was trying to break into
an electric light bulb
and fry himself on the wires

why do you fellows
pull this stunt i asked him
because it is the conventional
thing for moths or why
if that had been an uncovered
candle instead of an electric
light bulb you would
now be a small unsightly cinder
have you no sense

plenty of it he answered
but at times we get tired
of using it
we get bored with the routine
and crave beauty
and excitement
fire is beautiful
and we know that if we get
too close it will kill us
but what does that matter
it is better to be happy
for a moment
and be burned up with beauty
than to live a long time
and be bored all the while
so we wad all our life up
into one little roll
and then we shoot the roll
that is what life is for
it is better to be a part of beauty
for one instant and then cease to
exist than to exist forever
and never be a part of beauty
our attitude toward life
is come easy go easy
we are like human beings
used to be before they became
too civilized to enjoy themselves

and before i could argue him
out of his philosophy
he went and immolated himself
on a patent cigar lighter
i do not agree with him
myself i would rather have
half the happiness and twice
the longevity

but at the same time i wish
there was something i wanted
as badly as he wanted to fry himself

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