Alexander Averin

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Butterflies and Hibernation

Nothing changes until you do.


Dear Diary,

I love this painting.

Blue Morpho butterfly
Martin Johnson

I read an interesting blog post about butterflies here and it coincided with me already having decided to write today about two Red Admirals that are hibernating in my bedroom of all places. We lived in an old Welsh farmhouse before we lived here in our little riverside cottage and the odd Red Admiral would often appear flying around inside that home during the winter. The first time one appeared coincided with a family bereavement and I was convinced it was their spirit – they are reputed to be spirits of the dead if they are indoors – perhaps they are, who knows?

As I lay in bed the other morning I looked up to the beams in the corner of my little bedroom and saw an unusual sight, not one but two butterflies cwched up closely on the beam together (Welsh word meaning snuggled). The following morning one had moved a little bit lower down (had they fallen out?) but lo and behold by the evening the other one had moved down to join the other and they were close again. Could they wake up and go back to sleep? I have no idea how hibernation works but it often appeals to me in the depth of Winter, usually in December around Christmas time……..(bah Humbug)….

I researched online what I should do if I find a butterfly hibernating in the house and it seemed to say that I should move it outside to somewhere ‘safe’ where birds can’t find it, not too cold, not too warm, it all sounded rather impossible to me so for now I am leaving them. One site suggested making up some nectar (?) and feeding them before I put them outside to sustain them through the cold weather. And apparently when they do wake they will be hungry and there will be no food for them in the cottage. I think when they wake I will put them outside then; I hope I am doing the best thing.

I grew up in South London and don’t remember seeing many butterflies to be honest but I always had the impression that butterflies only lived for two days, where that came from I don’t know but it stayed with me nearly all my life until I found out it was not true - just another childhood illusion shattered.

I shall leave you with a poem by the late John O’Donoghue. Its title is November and the theme is the coldness and melancholy of the season and I feel a need for ‘hibernation’ within it.

However it may be November but today it is so warm that I have no heating on at all so the poem does not really fit the day or my mood. They tell me colder weather is on its way but I am making the most of these balmy, happy days for even the sun is shining now…..the rain showers have passed away from us. I very much hope all is fine with you too, in every way.


November’s hunger strips the fields, its thin light

rifles the web and warmth of every nest

allows the cold day to invade each secret,

absolves the ghosts of leaf that outlast autumn.

Now I can depend less and less on the grace

of spontaneity, talk quickly tires,

words become contrived, as they eyes of others

notice my mind unravel in this sallow light.

Intense with silence my room waits for me,

the paintings and open books grown distant,

its window one huge eye on the tree outside;

in the mirror the glimpse of my face draws tears.

John O’Donoghue

Bye for now,



Irish Eyes said...

I loved this Cait; your Kerry ancestry is showing through in your wonderful way of expressing yourself.

Mark said...

Thanks for the link.

Your shed is probably the best place to put them, or a garage - but leave a window slightly open in the spring.

Elisabeth said...

Hi Cait, I'm new to your bog, from Australia. For us November signifies the advent of spring into summer. Tomorrow it will be around 30 degrees Celsius. your story of the butteries here is lovely. I'm pleased to meet you.

Dave King said...

Fascinating post. Love the poem.

Elizabeth said...

What a wonderful new header!
so sorry I haven't visited for ages.
I always love your thoughtful posts.
lots of love from New York and me!

Fennie said...

Miranda would, I think, be a very good name for a butterfly, or maybe if it were a Red Admiral then Mirandovskaya. The Miranda in your picture is neither red, nor an Admiral, nor for that matter a butterfly. And I guess were you a butterfly you wouldn't be all that bothered about your ship crashing in the Tempest Foam on to the rocks of Bermuda. You would just flutter off and find somewhere to hibernate. I wonder though whether you have noticed how butterflies can fly through or across, wind. I have often wondered why they aren't blown about like scraps of tissue paper. Maybe you have the answer.

Hope Miranda and George continue their cuch. I decided to name the other one George. A sugar lump perhaps would keep them going until spring. Are they both Red Admirals? And where are the ships? Besides Admirals, you have skippers but no sailors or bosuns or crew of any sort among the genus.

Norma Murray said...

I remember feeding a butterfly with honey and water, and then putting it in the shed.Well at least the cat didn't get it.

Frances said...

Cait, your posts always take me to new places. This one will encourage my eyes to look for more signs of this season.


CAMILLA said...

Hello Cait,

Apologies for stopping by late, just trying to catch up.

I adore all the Butterfly's, the question you pose was something I wanted to know too re whether if one found them in the cottage this time of the year would they survive if placed outside.

I have come across this web page Cait, hope the link works for you.

Love the Poem.

Steven Cheshire's
British Butterflies