Summer colours

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9286 - Harrisimemna trisignata - Harris's Three-Spot
Harris’s Three-Spot (Harrisimemna trisignata)

One of the advantages of having multiple different projects on the go is that if you start to feel weary with one, or are waiting on something before you can continue, or just need a change of pace, you’ve got several other things to turn to that will still keep you busy. This morning I pulled out my paints for the first time in perhaps six months or more. Now that the warbler drawings were all wrapped up, it was time to sit down with the blackbirds. I had been procrastinating on getting started because I didn’t have a good workspace downstairs in my living room cum study. I finally got around to rearranging things a bit and moving my drafting table down from Dan’s studio (neither of us wanted to work in the same space, for a number of reasons, and since I spend half my time at the computer and he has more need of the extra space, he got the second bedroom). I’m thinking I might take some photos of my works-in-progress and post them from time to time. I have 55 blackbirds to paint between now and July, so much of my time will be occupied with that, I suspect.

8089 - Hypoprepia miniata - Scarlet-winged Lichen Moth
Scarlet-winged Lichen Moth (Hypoprepia miniata)

However, prior to that, while I was procrastinating, I turned to the moth book to do some work on that for a while. One of the things that I’d been meaning to get to for a while was organizing and labeling my moth photos. I had a collection of 374 unidentified/unlabeled images from the warm weather (how long ago that seems right now!), and I’ve been whittling that down, slowly. And that’s just the photos I took since moving here. I have an additional 762 photos from my parents’ old place and Toronto. Because the whole point of my friend and I doing this book is that there isn’t a good easy reference guide currently out there, progress has been slower than I might like. I’ve gone through and identified and labeled 125 so far. Just a thousand left to go!

7704 - Eacles imperialis - Imperial Moth
Imperial Moth (Eacles imperialis)

But boy, going through those photos really brought back the warm summer evenings, the stars glowing overhead, the still, humid air, the crickets chirping in the grass, the moths fluttering at the porch lights. The delight in standing on the deck, looking over the creatures drawn to the light, discovering something new, something interesting, something colourful. The expectation as the top of the moth trap is opened, a hundred soft little bodies clinging to the egg cartons inside, the excitement over unusual finds. The tediousness of taking them out of the fridge where they had been held, chilled to keep them calm, and sitting them on a leaf to have their photo taken. Over and over. Hm.

7653 - Calledapteryx dryopterata - Brown Scoopwing
Brown Scoopwing (Calledapteryx dryopterata)

I am full of anticipation for those first mild evenings in early April, perhaps even late March if we’re lucky enough to get an exceptionally warm spell. What plans I have for those evenings. My lamps are carefully tucked away, my white sheets lie folded, my trap is disassembled and stored in the garden shed. But come April they’ll all be brought out, dusted off, and, hopefully, drawing in the moths once again. What mysteries will the lights reveal this year, in this new location?

9301 - Eudryas grata - Beautiful Wood-Nymph
Beautiful Wood-Nymph (Eudryas grata)

By the end of the warm season, it’s easy to begin feeling tired out with a subject, to have difficulty maintaining interest and excitement over such a long period. I feel guilty, in the fall, for choosing not to put my light out on a nice evening, or grab my binoculars and go birding on a warm afternoon, but eventually one begins to burn out, the flame that burned so strongly and brightly in the spring finally running out of fuel, flickering and sputtering reluctantly. However, nothing like five long, dark months of cold and snow to renew the fuel banks for the flame. After five months of limited activity, this pony has been confined inside far too long, she’s champing at the bit, eager to get out and stretch her legs.

8956 - Marathyssa basalis - Light Marathyssa
Light Marathyssa (Marathyssa basalis)

In the meantime, to get me through the remaining six weeks of winter, I browse through my photos, basking in the memories of warmth and sunshine and verdent green foliage that they conjure. I came across a photo I took when we first moved here, a view of our house from the dock, the trees so lush and green you can only see the top where it peeks out above the leaves. Sapphire blue sky, clear cool water, lilypads and a hammock.

8087 - Lycomorpha pholus - Black-and-yellow Lichen Moth
Black-and-yellow Lichen Moth (Lycomorpha pholus)

It seems we’re always looking ahead to the next season, always waiting for that next exciting thing, so often we forget to stop and enjoy what’s here right now. There is magic to the snowy landscape, the crystal ice sheaths wrapped around the trees, the frost on the windows and the crunch underfoot. I appreciate winter, sure. But as much as I see the beauty in the cold season… how can you not anticipate spring?

7670 - Tolype velleda - Large Tolype
Large Tolype (Tolype velleda)


Author: Seabrooke

Author of Peterson Field Guide to Moths. #WriteOnCon Mastermind. Writer of action/thriller SF/F YA. Story junkie. Nature nut. Tea addict. Mother. Finding happiness in the little things. Twitter: @SeabrookeN / @SeabrookeLeckie

9 thoughts on “Summer colours”

  1. Oh, I just love you photos! What a project you’ve started. How many times do my sister and I brainstorm making new guides that supply the information WE are looking for. I can see it is a massive project! When your book is finally finished, I’ll be one of your first customers. I enjoyed reading through your text. You have quite a gift for words. I was able to relate to your state of mind and sat smiling and nodding as I continued reading. What a nice way to begin my day!

  2. Karen – it is a bit of an undertaking, as I’ve discovered, but I have the advantage of having a great partner to work with, who happens to be very knowledgable on the subject – I don’t think I would’ve taken the project on without him on board.

    Mike – you’re telling me! I would be okay with winter being about three months long. Five seems unnecessarily excessive.

    Huckleberry – That’s exactly it. I love the thrill of discovery with mothing, that you never know what might turn up at your light, or in your trap.

    Thanks, Caroline, I’ll go check it out!

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