Sunday, May 31, 2015

ARRETEZ, REGARDEZ, ECOUTEZ - Moths Drinking the Tears of Sleeping Birds

There's grace in the mundane -

Twenty scarecrows in the fields of Rougnac, a few kilometers down the road.  Only the French would take the time to dress up a load of sticks and hay.

I stuck to the road,
fell under the tire's spell!
Fuji climb cancelled.

Homage to Kobayaski Issa, master Haiku poet

Selfie with Sheep - Le Pontilou

I'm a myopic introvert wandering around the campagne. 

Somebody could use a new coat
New born - Le Pontilou
The spring lambs were consorting and cavorting in the lush greenness.  Tiny ones in the fields, mewling and glassy eyed, startled at their own birth.  There was a cacophony of country sounds converging...hum of bees, the insistent Cuckoo, church bells, barking dogs on a hunt, a tractor several fields over, roosters crowing, bird songs I couldn't identify and beneath it all, murmur of wind. It was the first time in my life i heard "sound" itself, layered like a parfait, nothing taking dominance.  A small orchestra, all playing the same Chorale tuned to the key of spring.

Welcome to the World
The scent of wild coriander was all along the roads, but I could never track the plants down.  I came across a herd of cows in Le Grande Brassac.

As I rode my bike along the fence, a large group of calves chased me for a a few meters. I stopped my bike and faced them. Staring, clumped together, they came closer and closer, but not too close to the clôture électrique. We knew, two-legged and four-leggeds, what could happen!  Communion with calves, a singular moment.  Then they went back to their "nursery". Fat hawk on spool of hay kept watch.

Maybe because Dad showed up

The lad below was by himself in a field near the cows - low maintenance livestock.

The Eighth Elegy (a portion of)

With all their eyes the creatures gaze into the Openness.
But our eyes are as if reversed and completely encirled it
like snares, obstructing its free movement.
What is out there, we know only from the faces of animals;
because early on we make the infant turn around and make him
look backwards to see what was in the past rather than the 
Openness, that lies so deep in the faces of animals.  Free from
death. We, alone, see that; the free animal always has its destruction
behind and god in front of it, and when it moves, it moves in eternity,
like a flowing spring.  We never have, not even for a single day, that
pure space in front of us, in which the flowers endlessly unfold...

Rainer Maria Rilke - from the Duino Elegies

 April showers brought May flowers and the Great Peacock/Emperor Moth, saturnia pyri.  In french it is called le grand paon de nuit.  Supposedly it is extinct in many parts of Europe, so it is a joy to see one and have it look back at you with those eyes. 
Le Grand Paon de Nuit
The moth brought back memories of the year we lived in a Gare (old railway station) in Savigny-sous-Faye, the Vienne. It was quite rustic, and we were helping with the renovations.  I had a room/office on the second floor with elegant floor to ceiling windows, but no curtains or screens. In the day time, the hornets, bees, flies & acrobatic spiders would join me. If I was lucky a praying mantis might show up.  On hot summer nights I would leave the windows open, and all manner of night creatures would fly in, but mostly bats and moths. It was a little like being in a Guillermo del Toro film - Pan's Labyrinth.

Pan's Labyrinth Screen Shot

I didn't mind the moths so much; they have the power of the whirlwind, the ease of movement in the shadows and the big ticket items of  transformation/metamorphosis, plus the Voyante's stock and trade: hearing spoken and unspoken messages. On the other hand, there is an old German myth that if a bat flies into your house, the devil is after you.  I felt like Tippi Hedren in the "Birds".  One night after falling asleep near my laptop,  hundreds of moths flew in.  When I awoke, there were strange little jewels all over my laptop.  They looked like tiny pearls.  Eventually I realized they were moth eggs.  I took some photos, but they are long gone, along with that laptop.  

Here is a better photo from Charles Krebs:

Moth Eggs
I read a piece in Rebecca Solnit's, The Faraway Nearby a while back, about moths drinking the tears of sleeping birds.  Some moths feed at the eyes of deer and elephants, water buffalo.  "There are crocodile tears and moths that feed upon them.  In the forests of Southeast Asia several species feed at the eyes of human beings."  This was documented by entomologist Hans Banziger, and reported in Remarkable New Cases of Moths Drinking Human Tears in Thailand.

Butterflies/bees drinking crocodile tears from Caiman - Photo Carlos de la Rosa

"He photographed one drinking from his own right eye with its furry wings outspread, looking like a tremendous tear or a misplaced brooch or a flower petal, an ornament invading his face...the word for teardrinkers is lachryphagous."  Solnit tied this together elegantly, connecting feeding on sorrow, heartbreak, empathy, pop songs, delicate grief, sadness, the blue like dusk, with the reminder that all things are ephemeral.  But all I could think of (with a shiver) was what else those moths were doing all night long besides laying eggs.  I do remember my eyes felt rather dry. 
Back to the mundane. 

Rhubarb from Jacs garden
At my own kitchen window this morning, a friend's gift of early rhubarb simmering away, I thought of how rhubarb was traditionally harvested by candlelight in the forcing sheds in the UK, to get the sweetest, tenderest stalks; I then thought of all the writing that gets done in the "dark" by candlelight, or the silvery light of the moon.  Though more likely by the blue light of the computer screen. We're  rendering one way or another.  "Rendering" - a word with many meanings.  In French, it usually means covering up a beautiful old stone wall with plaster, or processing/melting down the carcass of an animal.  

Blossoms arrived on schedule this spring...

Our secret garden

We threw some parties in the Cherry Orchard; it was like a Chekhov play without the Russians.

The Usual Suspects

Lady Sara & Jodie

 All Russia is our orchard. The earth is so wide, so beautiful, so full of wonderful places. Just think, Anya. Your grandfather, your great-grandfather and all your ancestors owned serfs, they owned human souls. Don't you see that from every cherry-tree in the orchard, from every leaf and every trunk, men and women are gazing at you? if we're to start living in the present isn't it abundantly clear that we've first got to redeem our past and make a clean break with it? And we can only redeem it by suffering and getting down to real work for a change. Chekhov

The Party's Over

Sundown in the Orchard

Getting down to real work for a change...I read Tarot at the Spring fayre at Le Marquisat again this year and Jake & John made me my own Tarot Casbah.  It was raining, but I was tucked in the back of the garden with all the geese, horses, dogs, self-important chickens, gargoyle presiding over it all. I had a conga line of clients, so it was a wonderful day. 

Jake holding down the fort
Reading for Belle Italianne, Monica

Self-important chicken

In May I was invited to read at Le Perroquet Vert spring fayre in Chalais.  It was another rainy day and not a great turnout, but as my English grandfather, George Bray, was fond of saying:  "Some days chickens, some days feathers."

My companion at Le Marquisat

Pomegranate on Stone - Persephone's Gift

Gaston Bachelard on Doors, from "The Poetics of Space":
"On May nights when so many doors are closed, there is one that is just barely ajar. We have only to give it a very slight push! The hinges have been well oiled. And our Fate becomes visible."

*Watch for the Strawberry Moon (called the Rose Moon in Europe) June 2nd, aka flower moon, honey moon, planting moon, hot moon.  The June full moons so named by the North American native Algonquin tribes, signaling that the strawberries were ready to be picked (strawberries not native to Europe, hence the Rose Moon).  We'll be picking cherries!

Rose Moon over Rome 2013 - Fillipo Monteforte, Getty Images

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