Sunday, 13 October 2013

Peacocks RIP

Way back in April, in only my second Oxfordshire post, I described the awakening of three Peacock butterflies from hibernation in our shed. Here, alas, are two which haven't made it this year. They must have fluttered into a spider's web - observe the grimy remains - or roosted too close to the window and subsequent heat on the sunny autumn days which only recently gave way to rain.

Looking through the camera viewfinder, I was struck by the realism of the eyes, almost as if a face was peering back at me from the beyond. Or at least from the window sill. To mark the passing of the butterflies, I found a curly leaf and re-arranged it for this second picture in the shape of whatever you call the opposite of a smiley. Rather grimly, something seems to have eaten out the eye in the fragment of wing at the top centre. The Greek mythologists could have added this to the story of Juno and the Peacock to lend force to the moral about not whingeing.

I then re-arranged the leaf to cheer up the face after all since vast numbers of Peacocks and Small Tortoiseshells survive the long half-life of hibernation over winter. Their re-appearance on days of early  sunshine in the Spring, or during Spring cleaning, is part of life and lore in the UK. Among other things, it accounts for the theatrical tradition that the appearance of a butterfly in the auditorium before a play's run is an omen of good fortune. In reality, it is a testament to the value of big theatre curtains as a place for a Peacock to snuggle down.

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