Monday 8 April 2013

It Begins!

That cold East wind is blowing again today, the sky is dull and cloudy, and I'm back in my overcoat. But yesterday was a different story - sunny and bright, with real spring warmth in the air. The day before, I had seen - or rather glimpsed - my first butterfly of the year (a full six weeks later than my first of last year), flying away from me across the front gardens of my road, then quickly disappearing from view. From its dark aspect and flight pattern, I took it to be a Peacock - but my true first Peacock came yesterday, as I walked along a sunny track at Box Hill. There, beside the path, on the chalky ground outside the mouth of a rabbit hole, was a fine specimen basking at full spread. All that useless beauty (as Elvis Costello nearly puts it in one of his album titles). All that glory of colour and pattern, that excess of illusion - giant eyes, complete with artful dabs of reflected light... The Peacock, soaking in as much sunlight as it could, barely moved, except to turn every now and then to a sunnier angle. It was a splendid first encounter of the butterfly year - may there be many more, once this weather finally releases its chilling grip.
And then the Brimstones were flying - three or four before I left Box Hill, and half a dozen more from the train, butter yellow against the ivy-clad embankment trees. Aah, spring...

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