June, Insects are for eating.
I was going to write about beetles. That every time I sit down to draw something, I’m visited by a parade of marvellous bugs. All friendly and all so splendid, they run across my paper, over my hand and down my leg. I swap one bit of paper for another and try and draw my beautiful visitors.
But last weekend my view of insects changed. I no longer see them as interesting curiosities, I see them as food. Not for me I hasten to add but for duckling, who was found lying in a bedraggled heap on my studio doorstep in a thunder storm. Just hatched and apparently lifeless, it was fully restored to health after just half an hour in someone’s breast pocket. Heat being the magic ingredient for life and three more days of dreadful weather mean I have now become it’s mother, with feelings of guilt about the life half lived in a sordid box with horrible grey chick crumbs to eat and a bowl of dirty water to wallow in. I think of the life it should have had, with other murmuring ducklings and a wary mother coaching her brood on the mysteries of being a wild mallard. Of the perils of deep water and open spaces, of the delights of mud and insect larvae, of the art of diving and eventually flying.
Unsure what to do, I’ve just taken it outside and watched it. A case of the blind leading the blind. But by watching I’ve discovered what it can do, what it likes to do, what it loves to do and also what frightens it. It’s sharp black eyes make it a formidable hunter already, small grasshoppers, mosquitoes, gnats and flies disappear down it’s gullet effortlessly. It doesn’t like ants. It loves dibbling in the mud and weeds at the edge of the stream and spends hours preening. I now look for insects with it, I’m proud when it makes a particularly good catch, sad if it misses. I try and think of good damp, dark and mosquito ridden places to take it to. I’m discovering times of day and weather conditions likely to produce more insects. I’m covered in mosquito bites! I’ve seen things I normally wouldn’t, like the dark hairy moths dancing up the middle of the stream at dusk, or the king fisher landing on a branch right in front of me. This tiny scrap of life, left for dead on my doorstep has given me a ducklings eye view of the world. One in which insects are for eating not admiring.