Wings and leaves

Wings and leaves

It’s quiet, the sky is emerging out of the darkness of night. The world is wakening up and soon the stillness will be exchanged for the noise of the day. I am capturing these moments to reflect on our week and the joy I have found in nature and books, wings and leaves

Painted Lady butterfly, buddleia providing food

I am sure anyone who lives in the UK or further afield has heard or saw the news about the once in a decade phenomenon of the mass migration of the Painted Lady butterflies. I will always remember our glimpse at one or two when we were out walking. The photo my sister sent me with ‘some sort’ of butterfly that had chosen to rest on her peg bag hanging on the washing line! The ‘clouds’ of butterflies mainly on the mainland with the most spectacular scenes of fluttering wings in the skies of Edinburgh, have been on the news as this generation move across and onwards as far as Iceland. They will follow their life cycle albeit short lived but with each new generation conservation is till something we need to commit to.

We haven’t had the clouds of wings but oh the joy when I noticed the wings in our garden were a little different and as soon as I saw the underwing I knew we had painted butterflies as guests. Elegantly dancing and with a hope and a pray I walked up the garden with my iPhone to balance on the log and take some photos of our little cloud of butterflies who have been visiting us for the past week. We have missed being out on our butterfly walks but with our buddleia in bloom and the lavatera petals high above in the sky, they saw our garden as a home with food to indulge in. The sedum still has to flower, the painted ladies may have gone but we hope to see the return of the small tortoiseshells and the red admirals going into autumn.

banquet for the painted lady

The next day I noticed the darker under wings and kept watching (dad’s dinner could wait) eventually I discovered the darker wings belonged to the Peacock butterfly had joined the scene, lending more colours when he opened his wings. He found a source in an old sink that dad had filled with bedding plants and hung upside down with his ‘owl’ like protection. I didn’t need to invert my photo to see that its body resembles that of a bird's beak in shape and colour. The 'eyes' are correctly positioned either side of the beak, making it look more like an owl looking out from behind the larger forewings. This fact has fascinated us over the years.

Peacock butterfly. It doesn’t matter this was a basin, it’s filled with flowers now

I took a little break from typing and have come back to repot our painted ladies and peacock butterflies are gracing our garden with their colourful wings, living their lives, moment by moment. The delicate wings, so easily torn, yet they fly with strength from flower to flower. Nature can teach us, if only we would take the time to stop and notice. I am stopping more and more to bring sense to my mind when all I can hear is the noise of the world. My little dark winged friend is back but oh how he glows when he opens his wings.

stop, look, peacock resting

I best stop to add more wings to our scene, the wings of the birds. As I wrote in the previous blog, the birds have been quiet. They were renewing their feathers and we missed their song, their little wings or bigger wings. The past week has brought them back to us, and brought us more joy. The sociable sparrows in their little groups. The solitary dunnock and of course mr bold robin with his increasingly red breast. Dad was in the kitchen early and witnessed so many birds he stopped to watch. One was puzzling him but when he described him I remembered our brown head, black body from a previous year. It was our naughty little blackbird, the one who demanded his food, even when he could feed himself. He has reappeared, as bold as ever but doesn’t realise, he isn’t the grown up blackbird he thinks he is. His head is still brown (juvenile plumage) while his body is black. The other birds don’t notice but he provided dad with a puzzle about a bird that looked like a blackbird but had a brown head! Both of us love to add to our knowledge by confirming what we ‘think he might be’ Sorry dad doesn’t have an iPhone and his DSLR was locked in the bag. Oh, I almost forgot mr Twiggy is still with us and eating so much he has grown a lot! He comes out to drink (a lot) and eat his cat biscuits and meal worms, then goes back under the shed. Dad has left leaves out for him and we still have to watch to see if he is taking them back under to make his home for the winter. He will be a well fed hedgehog if he stays with us and hibernates. It is wonderful to watch. Edited: 21st August we have changed mr twiggy’s diet after researching I found meal worms aren’t the best for him. They will eat them and love them but they don’t have enough calcium. We now feed him hedgehog nutritional biscuits with black larvae worms in limited quantities) but the black ones are high in the calcium he needs. He didn’t take long to get used to his new hedgehog diet as he scoffed the lot last night! Tiny portion of hedgehog muesli, hedgehog biscuits, not crushed to clean his teeth plus a few nutritional worms and water. I will update this on my next blog

I will have to cut short the rest of my observations although I treasure each one and know how much comfort they have brought to me during a few weeks of stress. I will add my last section ‘leaves’ as I have gone back to turning the leaves off books. It is too easy to become distracted, reading books online. Life online is more in pictures without important words. Confusing in their meaning, adding to my anxious mind. Digital media will never replace the pages of books for us. Dad is a book worm (he doesn’t go online, full stop!) his knowledge abounds and I knew I wanted to get back to real books. I received several books for my birthday and all of them have a place and a time for me to read and learn. My friend sent me a book about bees, the book is tactile, the photography is amazing and the text is worth learning as without the bees we wouldn’t survive. This is the friend I shared many happy times from afar reading the two books on butterflies I have started to read all over again. Matthew Oates In Pursuit of Butterflies Patrick Barkham The Butterfly Isles. We have very different tastes in other books but we share the love of nature and her gift of the bee book was a most thoughtful gift. It is full of facts and startling facts we all should know.

I was reminded of William Blake’s words

The busy bee has no time for sorrow

turning over the leaves of my books

turning over the leaves of my books

Dad bought me some books too. Grace for the moment and It’s okay not to be okay. Once again the little book is very tactile but provides reassurance which is vital today. I added my knitting book to the stack (non digital too) I am knitting the third pattern from this book and hope I will be sitting up reading or knitting when I wear the cardigan as my sort of bed jacket. I am in bed more than I am out so it really became evident this would be something new for me to knit. The designer didn’t intend it as a bed style jacket! The problem with patterns in books is the errata found. I discovered this morning after feeling relieved that I had reached the sleeves. The pattern was completely wrong and this was when I needed to be connected to visits the website and make the wrong right (frogs don’t have wings but they are part of this blog!) I will be catching up later now I have finished the blog today. Thank you for you reading if you are still here. Beverley

Wing Flash: I had published my blog when the dark wings arrived then opened! All photos with my iPhone

peacock butterfly latest wing flash



Nothing is won by force. I choose to be gentle.




Feeling vulnerable

Feeling vulnerable

Sound of silence

Sound of silence