One advantage to only using a cellphone for photography is that it requires one to get physically close to one’s subjects for photos like this, which involve lots of patient stalking. Out of such absorbing experiences, haiku sometimes emerge fully formed. Such was the case with me and a series of monarchs this afternoon. And it’s a great example of how scientific knowledge contributes to a sense of wonder. So yes, I had a direct experience in a sort of Zen way, but that experience was shaped by my knowledge of monarchs’ multi-generational, epic migration—an epic they themselves presumably have no intellectual grasp of. Like most animals, they are, we suppose, in the moment at all times. Which is simultaneously attractive and terrifying to contemplate.
Although at least 95% of the gypsy moth caterpillars stripping our ridgetop oaks this summer died of diseases before reaching adulthood, enough did make it to ensure another generation. There were so many interesting details of gypsy moth life history I could’ve focused on here, not to mention the unsettling (to a human) scene of apparent devastation, the tree trunks still covered with caterpillar corpses, etc., but the “I HAVE NO MOUTH BUT I MUST MATE” aspect kind of encapsulates the whole horrific reality, I think, and I liked the word music here, including the almost rhyme of moths and mouths which, to me at least, echoes the male and female moths’ similar but contrasting looks.
The new-to-me font is Bellota Regular. The cursive swashes in an otherwise non-cursive font make it a pretty good match for modern haiga, I think.
I keep trying to accumulate enough haiku to make submissions to certain hoity-toity journals that only consider haiku that have never been blogged or shared on social media, and then finding excuses to post them here anyway. Oops! In this case, the excuse was provided by an eight-spotted forester moth that landed on the brim of my ball cap, then obligingly stayed there while I de-capped, fished out my phone and took some snapshots.
There’s an acute lack of resolution in this photo due to cropping from a too-distant shot. The beetle was actually quite cooperative, and allowed me to approach to the point where I was holding the phone just inches away, but that’s when the camera chose to stop focusing and require a re-start, by which time the beetle had buggered off. So this isn’t going to win any awards. On the other hand, I’m rather pleased with the haiku.
A little too comic, a little too obvious… fine, it’s a senryu. Bring on literalism in the haiga, complete with speech balloon.
As an adult butterfly, the question mark seeks out rotting fruit, tree sap, dung, or carrion as food sources. Only when these are unavailable do question marks visit flowers for nectar. This dietary adaptation is especially beneficial to the late spring / overwintering / early spring brood when nectar sources may be limited.
Just spotted this at the back of the garage when I put away the car this afternoon. How had I missed it before? Such gorgeous architecture. I’m not entirely sure what I had in mind with the words but they felt right, and sometimes that’s enough.