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relic ecologies / a note from Severine from Point Reyes Station

Posted: January 30 2008

A visit to my fairy godmother's perch in Pt. Reyes Station. Barbara is a lepidopterist, a xercian butterfly gardener, a naturalist, a thinker. She reminds me about the integrity of ecosytems, and the butterflies about the peace of wild things.

"The Peace of Wild Things" by Wendell Berry

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief.
I come into the presence of still water. And I feel above me the day-blind stars waiting with their light.
For a time I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

Last time we were here we visited the 20 year burn site where Ceanothis had grown up in a thicket to cover the ash. This year the butterflies had discovered the long scar of fresh, vital Ceanothis and had congregated there to feed their young, the catapillers. The catapillers would feed, feed, feed and then turn themselves up into capsules.
butterflyThe capsules looked like alien pods hanging, dangling and swining from the clean-munched branches of the Ceanothis. They were gray and dapply and horned. Inside the caterpillers had disolved into a liquid paste- vulnerable, and delicious to certain parasites, they had developed a defense mechanism. A clap, a hum or a song would set them into motion- swinging and bobbing up and down- without muscles, without purpose, except to evade the hungry flies. So as we walked along the fire road along the scar of bare trees and sang out and looked, we saw all the metamorphic cacoons jiving up and down and moving the branches of the trees, and the trees, and the trees on either side until the whole forest was moving.
Inside the liquid begins to fasten itself to the imaginal plates- and slowly, slowly the wings of the butterfly take form.butterfly
When, wet and weak, the butterflies finally emerge, it is called eclosing. The butterflies eclose, puff liquid into their wings and soon as the sun shines off the haze, they take those new wings for a flutter.
Viva la tierra. Severine.