It was always going to be a slow morning. The rain had eased to the occasional lazy drop which suffused through the thin autumn air and jewelled the yellowing grasses with sparse mirror globes. I’d come in search of a particular butterfly and was pleasantly surprised when one came to greet me as soon as I’d stone-leapt across the brook. Comma butterflies are not rare, but they’re not overly common either, in fact I’ve never before photographed one. Today was going to be the day.
I sat with her for quite a while once she’d chosen a spot to settle and noted her tattered forewings. Now commas are naturally scraggy beings, their closed wing outline becomes a ragged autumn leaf caught on a blade of grass, however this one had obviously lived long and hard. Soon she would die. Maybe today would be that final ascent before she became a nutrient laced corpse lost in the middle world of autumn. I didn’t want to spook her so I slowed down to her pace and talked of my plans, quietly under my breath.
Time slipped by as we got familiar. I witnessed her turn to warm her wings on the weak cloud-filtered sun and she saw me slowly circle around her, keeping my distance, safely beyond her comfort boundary. We spiralled together for an age, she catching warmth, me catching comma spirit. Eventually she flew but no more than a hand’s breadth to a tired scabious flower even closer to my lens and I took this as my cue to say my goodbyes.
Gently I slipped away through the old wet meadow back to my camera bag which lay abandoned some 50 yards away. Apparently she hadn’t had enough of me just yet. Her autumnal leaf form fluttered alongside me and she alighted next to my camera bag as I packed my kit away.
I got the message loud and clear: the stories I need to tell are not mine, they belong to nature and can only be found out here on the raw edges of the land. The stories are not mine to keep, the are mine to share.