26 April 2011

Roshi Moth

The moth was there when I left the house this morning.  It clung to the storm door like a damp scrap of cardboard.  It moved nary a twitch as I shut the door, I noticing it when I turned to check the lock.  Cardboard.  Hmmph.  Perhaps a bit too pedestrian, and disrespectful.  It was, after all, a creation of the natural world and not cast-off detritus of mankind's ability to create waste no matter what its undertaking.  Out of respect for my lepidopteran visitor, I'll try again.

This moth clinging to the door better resembled tree bark, maybe of a sycamorean cast.  It was gray and mottled with a a few light patches.  In the morning light it did resemble somewhat that fascinating flaking patchwork that sycamore bark takes on as the tree gets older.  I paused, peering at the moth, and wondered, why it, why here?  I felt no desire to disturb the little fellow.

Concurrently to my insectarian ruminations, a large spider was lurking at the threshold of the door.  I'm wasn't sure of its species, either, and had no real curiosity to look too close.  It was rather large for a spider in these parts, and somewhat fuzzy.  I had the silly notion that it was trying to get into my house, at which point a crisp flick of the shoe sent the arachnid tumbling end over end and off the porch into the ivy bed.  It crawled away, which put me at ease.  Even though I am not particularly fond of spiders, I don't go out of my way to kill them.  If they are in my house, maybe, but not outside where they have more than enough territory.

Back to the moth.  I watched it for a few heartbeats, then trundled up the steps and to the car.  Surely, the moth would be gone when time I arrived home that evening.

About that, I was mistaken.  There it was, still clinging to the door.  As far as I could tell, it had not moved in the hours I had been away.  The angle of repose, the wings flat and spread: exactly as I had left it.  The creature yet again didn't move when I opened the door to step inside.

Later, after dinner, I repaired to the porch, glass of iced tea in one hand and a trio of cookies in the other.  The moth on the door, a sphinx proffering a riddle.  Sitting down at the little round table I have, I propped my feet up and contemplated life as a moth.  What did it do all day?  Where would it go, if not here?

What is it, if anything, that moths think about?

It occurred to me then, that maybe the answer was right there in my hands.  Not in a literal sense, from the moth point of view, but figuratively, from my point of view: Sip tea, eat cookies.

Just because we have wings does not mean we have to spend every waking minute flitting frantically from place to place, so afraid of missing something we forget to appreciate and enjoy the quiet mysteries right in front of us.  The breeze, birdsongs,and the distant wail of a train horn all have something to offer us, if we only cared to let them give it.  Sometimes what we need is to hold still like the moth, watching the sun carve its arc across the sky.

Sometimes, all we need to do is sip tea, eat cookies.

Later, I was taking out the week's recycling, and I saw the moth was gone.  Makes sense, I suppose.  Night had fallen, and perhaps it was time for it to fulfill other aspects of its moth-being.  I wish it well.


  1. You made a great point. Also, if that moth comes back, how about a photo?

  2. we have much to learn from the moths around us...and the birds, and the way the sun sets, and in the preparation of our evening meal. Your contemplation of the moth brought you some enlightenment -- who needs temples or zendos, eh?

  3. Wow Gumbo...now you have me thinking about the large black ants that have been scurrying about my house the past few days, always on the move, and moths stopped for a rest...hmmm

  4. Mmm... iced tea. I'd skip the cookies, only because I'd need hot tea to dip them in.

  5. And you know how hard it is just to sit there, sip tea, eat cookies, and not think? It's a true test of strength.

  6. Moths are creatures of the night. I have seen so many beautiful ones here. And I was fascinated by them as a kid.

  7. Detritus! Excellent word.

    Those last two paragraphs? Yes. Perfect. Exactly.


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