July, Crunching Butterflies
I am standing by a bramble bush in the sun. I’m trying to draw the hundreds of butterflies on and around it. My two lurchers are chasing each other round and round, burning off some energy after a long day spent lying about. I’m looking at the simple five petal flower of the bramble. It’s as unshowy as the butterflies that are flocking to it. I remember a programme I watched about how insects see. It said that they can see ultra violet light (which we can’t) and it showed a scene a bit like the one I’m looking at, in ultra violet light. Instantly it was unrecognisable. The drab brown butterfly with the pale edges to the tips of it’s wings was now purple and black striped, the plain pink flower was orange and covered in silvery dots. With the lights back to normal you couldn’t see, even the faintest trace of these other, ultra violet, markings. I’m in a world of winged semaphore. Of lepidoptera invisible ink. Silent Morse-code. Glinting flashes and pulses. Signals with urgent meaning. Imagine what it’s like to be in command of the entire light spectrum. To be able to bend it and reflect it at your will.
A butterfly’s experience of here, in this field, right now, is so profoundly different from mine. And that melodious blackbird singing above our heads is having another different, blackbird reality, and the butterfly and I are experiencing him and his singing differently. The butterfly, the blackbird and I, we none of us have the truth of this place, we all have a little part of it. Like the compound eye of an insect, each of our realities is an angle on the lens. All together, they make up the whole.
And then my reverie is broken by the crash of the dogs as they career into the bramble bush and collapse at my feet, panting horribly loudly. The butterflies take off in fright and I stand still, waiting for them to settle. I’m trying to draw the jerky fluttering of a Ringlet over there. Slinky follows my gaze, jumps up, and in one bound…. crunch, he’s eaten it! A prism of sunlight, scratchily (I hope) descending his gullet into eternal darkness.