Monday, 22 February 2010

Silence of the Lambs!

Reading Seaside Sister’s latest post reminded me of some of the lovely walks I used to go on as a child with my mother. Our household always had a dog so mum never needed an excuse to go walking. 

Walking especially in the countryside or woods is a magnificent solace for the soul. I think mum walked to forget but also to remember our dad. It was dad who had been into flora and fauna then mum took on his mantle when he died. She even became treasurer for the Natural History Society in our area. This all meant for super walks for me as a child. Fungus foraying with experts in the New Forest every Autumn, haring about sniffing out Stinkhorns not understanding why mum would raise an eyebrow at their latin name Phallus impudicus and marvelling at enormous Fly Agaric Amanita muscaria.

Stinkhorn - Phallus impudicus

Fly Agaric - Amanita muscaria

Then there were the butterfly walks in Summer, clouds of  Chalk Hill Blue Lysandra coridon and glimpses of Purple Emperor Apatura iris fluttering amongst the treetops.
Chalk Hill Blue Lysandra coridon

I especially enjoyed staying up late to go moth watching. We would traipse off to the midnight garden of some county pile, spread white sheets on the lawn, stick a very bright light in the middle and wait. Dizzy moths, drunk with light would fall onto the sheets to be observed and recorded and then fly off into the inky blackness of the warm night air unscathed and unhurt. 
I loved the Peach Blossom and the Buff Ermine for their names  although they are quite pretty fluffy things, if I were a mouse I’d probably have one as a hat. But who could fail to be impressed by the hawkmoths especially the Death’s Head now infamously known for the retouched image on the Silence of the Lambs poster. If you pick them up they squeak!

Death’s Head Hawkmoth Acherontia atropos image © Keith Naylor

You can help save butterflies and their habitats by joining the likes of David Attenborough at UK Butterfly conservation for just £2.33 a month. You can also find a Natural History Society in most areas of the UK, the London one is here, I think I shall have to join, don’t you?

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‘They tuck you up your mum and dad...’
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Anais Nin

‘Come on Dover move your bloomin’ arse’.
Eliza Doolittle