My earliest memories of spring are a shower of petals – along our curb, confetti-petals of bridal wreath; in the turnaround, clustered petals of highbush cranberry; beside our garage, white-petaled boughs of mulberry; at wood’s edge, aromatic petals of mock orange; at our back door, fairy-winged petals of honeysuckle.
Five decades have bloomed and faded since I was the little girl who pored over the perimeter of her woodland world in a pair of blue Keds and white anklets. Yet, still, I witness each spring with a child’s wide-open eyes, my senses alert to the littlest things: flick of a tail in the underbrush, a robin’s song of impending rain, petals in the grass. I can’t help but marvel at spring’s faithful unfurling. In May, when beauty blossoms and petals billow, each moment is poignant, impermanent, and I don’t want to miss a single one.
Last weekend, I potted flowers and herbs to heart’s content, then crossed the front lawn towards the garden spigot to fill my old tin watering can. In the dappled shade of our river birch, I paused to let a cool breath of wind sift through my hair. As I stood, savoring spring, my eye caught peripheral motion. I turned to witness the calligraphic flight of a single petal that came to rest at my feet among the grassy roots of our river birch.
I looked closer, then stared. This was no petal, it was a tiny moth, smaller than a dime. Peering closer still, I noticed its wings had pink markings and twin wing spots.
Not daring to disturb this diminutive creature, I spoke softly to Jeff, who was working nearby, and asked him to bring his camera.
Here, with many thanks to my dear husband, is an up-close opportunity to study this breathtaking moth. As is often the case, this little beauty’s common name is just that – common. (And, I might add, wholly unromantic.)
Behold the female chickweed moth.
(If she were male, she’d have feathery antennae.) She’s a member of the geometer family, (Geometridae), meaning that in her previous incarnation, she was a humble inchworm who measured her world, millimeter by millimeter. Since she dines primarily on chickweed, she’s considered beneficial to the garden. Unlike most moths, she flies by day and spends much of her time hidden among the grass.
These are the facts that govern her existence. But to me, she represents more.
Her wings, like brushed suede, are a work of art, lovely as any butterfly’s. I marvel at the delicate perfection of deep pink fringe that edges each gold-dusted wing. She sports symmetrical wing spots, but these spots don’t look round to me. Call me a dreamer, but I see a pair of diminutive hearts inscribed here. . .
As the modern world gathers velocity, the seasons hurry by. It’s increasingly easy to be swept up with what we perceive as big things, too rushed and distracted to be mindful of little things.
Yet love never tires of disguising itself as the little thing. It hides in plain sight, waiting to be noticed. Like a tiny moth, it flutters near.
Everywhere and all around, in the swirl of our passing days, love is within reach, like a petal in the grass.