Wednesday, May 29, 2013

"The Thing" Resolved: It's a Boy!

After a six month gestational period of sorts with mysterious, "The Thing," a miraculous emergence has occurred here in this cove of many wonders. He emerged delicately, neon wings limp and crumpled, antennae alive and charismatic. The flippin' sweetest antennae I ever saw, their fern-like perfection tinted with a hue that resides somewhere over the rainbow, between 'mustard,' rust' and 'sable.'

And while I am on the subject of hue, allow me to emphatically relay to you the neon effect of this handsome guy's wings! The neon pops! Bright dusty yellow shoulders make way for one of the livliest greens I have ever seen in the natural world, and the entire upper wing system is cloaked in a scarf of deep majestic purple. The lunar markings on the wings are aptly reflective of our night sky, with insinuations of the moon in its different phases.

I've been living with him in pupa form since November. I found his cocoon out in the yard in some leaves under the hickory. I brought him up to the house, and with some investigative worked deduced that he was probably a luna moth in the making. He lived in a box on the covered porch with some leaves and lichens for the winter, and I brought him inside a few days ago and put him into a giant 4-gallon Ball jar so that I could see him when he emerged.

With wings crumpled and hues popping, he chilled out in the Ball jar last evening while I showered and ate my dinner. I then gently secured the Ball jar into the passenger seat of my town car with the seatbelt, and we rode down to Susie and Todd's for a session of admiration. They too have been waiting for the emergence. Along with George "why do they call him Jorge?" Cooper, we shared a perfectly lovely, lightening bug lit cool mountain evening on the porch of the shack, nibbling on chocolate and watching The Big Lebowski. Just the 5 of us.

I got to give it to the guy. He must be hearty stock because after all that handling and being moved indoors and outdoors again and being put on the table to be watched bumping around in the cocoon all winter, he still had the stamina to complete full metamorphosis. When we got home late last night, I spent some quiet time with him, and ultimately placed him on the porch post just before midnight. He needed to hang like that for a while to let the blood fill his wings before he launched into the night sky. May he fly off into the hardwoods and find a special lady friend to help conceive. Good night sweet prince*.

* The sex of the luna moth was guessed by the large antennae and the yellowish green hue of the wings.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

For Kieran

I ran over a toad today with my lawn mower. I didn't even see it there, which is slightly odd because I am always watching for things not to kill with my machines and movement. I just looked down, and there was a strange small pile of guts and organs, with two perfectly gorgeous little intact toad's feet. I got down and closely watched the eviscerated pile for a while, turning it over a few times with a stick. I completely expected the little toad heart to still be beating. But death must have settled very quickly because all that was there was stillness. How quickly Life can cease.
I am grateful for every dead animal I have studied over the years, and there have been many. Handling, smelling, taking apart, eating, burying, preserving, admiring. I have gained much respect and familiarity for the animal kingdom through experiencing the death of it. I still hang out with dead animals whenever I get the chance.
Perhaps it is precisely from learning just how quickly Life can end that it has come how much I favor studying living creatures these days. I am learning how to observe an animal in the action of living its brief and precious Life. I sometimes can't believe how long it has taken me to notice some of the incredible things that are occurring around me all the time! The pileated woodpecker slamming its spectacular face into trees all day to eat, to breed, to rest. The luna moth spinning its coppery cocoon out of leaves and what surely must be some sort of awesome bodily fluid to make that shimmery effect. The indigo buntings fighting for mating rights with that special female. The naked cicada subterrainously waiting for the moment when the stars are lined up and the fish are bitin' to emerge from the earth and climb a tree.
The first time I experienced a massive cicada hatch was 17 yrs ago, when I was living in Virginia. One evening or morning- I forget which-I was walking in the woods, and I stopped to just stand still for a few moments. I got the odd sensation that the earth was moving all around me. I looked down and refocused to discover that the earth and all the trees were covered with thousands upon thousands of cicadas in all stages of hatching and shedding. Imagine my surprise. They were absolutely everywhere. For the next several weeks, all you could hear was their hauntingly prehistoric-sounding chorus. "Pha-roah! Pha-roah!" is what they were singing. Or so said my favorite neighbor, Hobart Shiflett. He said some of the best things. The song of the periodical cicadas was the soundtrack that ushered me into the very beginning of my adult life. I turned 20 to this song.
They say this year is going to be another big one on the cicada front. Has it really been 17 years? Are these cicadas that are hatching out starting now the offspring of those thousands that crept around me that day in the woods17 years ago? They've been feeding on creepy crawlies down there in the belly of the earth while I have been up here coming into my own at my own special slow, 17-yr pace. I was standing on them the whole time.
Excuse me for saying this, but that blows my fucking mind.
Happy cicada emergence, Kieran.

**Author's note: The periodical cicadas (Magicicada) are a group of several species, which remain underground for 13 or 17 years, depending on the species, emerging in large broods to breed and lay eggs in tree branches in the early summer of their year. To be exact, I do not know which species I experienced in May of 1996, but for the poetic sake of this essay, I am assuming they were one of the 17-yr species.

Monday, May 20, 2013

He chuckled and chortled...

He chuckled and he chortled and loped around the perimeter of the Maypole gatherers, their faces freshened with the kiss of springtime and their breaths relaxed with the passing of another Winter. He grunted and groaned and stared with diamond blue eyes out of a mask of lichen and fern, a creature of the forest- Man with the wooly coat of a Beast. He inspired fear in the children and bone-deep familiarity in the rest of us, his face a primordial recollection of sorts.

Playing this dance out, facing the Man from the Wood, greeting each dancer time and again as the ribbons are woven to the music- these things are worth taking the time for. They are as crucial as eating the green shoots of asparagus and the precious brain-like morel. The psychic reset for the coming season.

May fertility and abundance reign over this mountain cove in 2013.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Jazz Hands for Angelica

The maypole is wrapped. The hoophouse is nearly full. The garden is weeded. The dang gui is germinating.
The rain is falling. Spring is, once again, bringing forth wet, green, irresistable life. The frogs are mating: a little ole bitty boy frog on the back of a big ole fat frog mama. They don't care. Life begets life. The dang gui are growing.
The dang gui are growing. The Chinese people are drinking the dang gui. Their blood is nourished.
The reishi are pushing their way out of dying hemlocks. The Chinese are drinking the reishi and living forever.
The spring is flowing with great forth.
The season is arriving.