Thursday, 4 September 2008

The Old Lady & The Caterpillar

On the last leg of my walk along the Schwarzenberg Canal, as I started the approach into Nova Pec, I passed an avenue of silver birch trees. On one side two horses browsed the grass in a paddock and a lone lupin caught my eye. The lupin season is over here, with the tall spikes now covered with seedpods, but in some instances there is a brief late summer flush when a few flowers bloom again. I paused and took a photo and then returned to my trek. There in the road was a large red caterpillar – this one in fact. I could only think that it had fallen out of one of the trees, perhaps in preparation for the creation of its chrysalis. After having taken its photo, I helped it onto the verge away from the passing car wheels.

A little further on an old lady was grubbing about in the grass and leaves under the trees. She looked a regular babushka, with beige cardigan, headscarf and matching tights, the lines on her face suggested she was probably about eighty. Behind her back one hand held a clear plastic bag. I nodded to her, as she looked up at me briefly before returning to her search. And then I realised the bag which I had thought contained old bread actually held a mass of caterpillars. I presume she was collecting them as tasty goodies for her chickens or maybe she was the owner of the ramshackle multi-storey pigeonloft, which sat behind one of the nearby homes. It is the nature of these things that most caterpillars will not make it - some will be squashed by a car tyre, some will not make it to the grass or are be taken birds, some will fall prey to a hawk-eyed babushka, but a few will turn into a chrysalis and eventually into Goat Moth. I rather hope mine is one of the lucky ones.

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