Wednesday, June 20, 2012


How appropriate that today,
lush field of ferns nearby

the official first day of summer,  should be marked by the arrival of Jersey- style heat and humidity here along the Maine coast. Only last week we were still switching on the forced air heat briefly each morning to take the chill off the tindo before heading outside, clad in pajamas and a sweatshirt, with coffee to greet the day and take a moment to marvel at the greening wonder that is Mother Nature coming alive once again. 

Last night Mimi, that intrepid adventuress, (a cat after my own heart) pulled one of her all nighters, (I call them Will’s Nights Out after an event in 2006), failing to return for supper, preferring to sleep rough in the jungle surrounding the “house”, and come home damp and exhausted in the early morn.  Minuit, our other cat, is black and older with a few grey hairs. She came to us with the name “Midnight”, a name far too hard sounding and sinister for such a sweet and affectionate feline, not to mention damn hard to say with the offhandedness required of a pet owner, so we renamed her a la francaise so both the kitties now sport frenchified monikers. So there’s Mimi (pronounced Meemee) and Minuit (Meenwee) and I can call them in by shouting anything resembling the sound eee – eee.  Beebee works nicely for both of them, they know what I mean and it’s efficient.

Anyway, Mimi decided to pull one of her all nighters out of doors. She knows I worry about her, out there in the jungle (I kid you not) that surrounds the tindo, where lurks an unknown (but heard creeping in the dark, dense, wet fern- smothered woods) collection of creatures: coyotes, deer, porcupines, wild turkeys (vicious fekkers), owls (one actually flew in the open window kamakazi style a couple of months ago, committing suicide right there at T’s feet!). You get the picture. So this morning, I’m outside on the step with my caffé and Minuit comes out to sit shiva with me for our departed Mimi and I call to Meems to Dammit come on in! A spritely Mimi comes prancing out of the woods and up the steps heading for her food bowl, where Minuit takes a quick, mean swipe at her (well done, Min!) as if to say How dare you make us all worry like that! Bad cat! Whereupon Mimi looks appropriately rebellious and crestfallen at the same time and scoots off to eat before shooting back outside, the envious Minuit in tow. They’re a pair, those two.

Speaking of pairs, Click on this picture to enlarge, I mean, really just awesome.

woman on top, Lunas sunning on our front door this morn

Of course the heat will be nothing compared to the hotbox that was Wilmington, NC last summer, and, being a Jersey girl (and a former DCer) myself, I’m looking forward to a few days of real summer languor under a ceiling fan, where there’s nothing for it but to sit at a laptop and type away, drinking my newly invented lemon fizzy (a quarter lemon squeezed in a tall glass, half a packet of stevia, plain selzer, then a few cubes of ice – wonderful! A shot of Souza tequila may be added once the sun is over the yardarm, which as everyone knows is a capricious measurement entirely dependent on perspective). 

The big news is the arrival last night of not one but TWO Luna moths  (Actias luna - see above photo), one male, one female, on the door trim 'neath the porch light we left on all night for the errant cat. (No errant cat = no moths? makes one wonder, it does.) It’s a BIG deal. AND it's the summer solstice no less. The Luna is a symbol of spiritual transformation, and we have TWO of them! T and I were so excited we were jumping up and down, gleeful at our good fortune, I (ooooo) wondering whose spirits they might be (Mom? Dad? Patti? Probably the gals as this is a ‘gal’ kind of place at the moment). Then we did some actual homework.

 Luna Moth waiting for lunasex partner four feet away
Luna moths (cool video here) are silk moths, the adults live for but one precious week, they mate, the female lays over 100 eggs during that week, under leaves she likes, especially white birch. They have no mouth, existing on the energy they stored as caterpillars last spring, wintering over in the snowbound woods, clinging to a leaf, waiting…. The female exudes a sexy smell (pheromones) around 10:30 at night, the guy (the lower moth in first photo)  likes this and comes a runnin, from up to, yes, twenty miles away – like a willing man to Chanel NO. 5. (Or so Marilyn believed and who's to say she was wrong?) 

Back on the island over several years a huge Luna moth would arrive at the Barn every summer, I was always sure it was my late sister somehow come to visit, to reassure, and it was a deeply treasured thing at which we all marveled every morning. One year it would be on the kitchen screen, another on the bathroom one over the old claw foot tub, but all of us felt it was somehow a blessing, an indulgence of some kind from a world we don’t notice enough, and sometimes foolishly profess we don’t believe in. Apparently the Luna is now endangered, so we feel all the more blessed to have them perched at the door today. I hope they stay awhile, all they ask is that you notice them, take a moment to wonder, be awed by their amazing beauty and delicacy. The fascia trim by the front door looks like the runway at JFK, so full of exotic varieties of moths is it this muggy morning. 

Honestly I’m so excited I can hardly contain myself.
It feels like a very good sign.

morning diamonds

I’ve been thinking about my last two and a half years of wandering, in search of spiritual enrichment and self-revelation, the Real ( real in spanish means royal, or authentic, depending on how used, odd, no?). And it's clear to me, (on the rare occasion, more habitual now, that I let go the Catholic school- bred whip of self-flagellation), that I’ve been, as several friends have pointed out, quite brave for an aging bird. Heading into unknown territories that opened me to new experience, following wonderful Anne’s advice to always Feel the fear and do it anyway. Bless you for that, A. It’s what she told me as I headed off to Spain on very short notice, a place I’d never been whose language I knew little of (and left knowing not much more I’m ashamed to say, but then my days were spent mostly speaking English there, a bad idea). It’s excellent advice, it will get you through almost anything, I’ve found. Just Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway. Really feel it, then say, screw it, I’m doin it anyway cause I want to. Cause I’m curious, and what is life if not an adventure? The willingness to take bigger risks, to believe in both instinct and the love of others, to discard fear, has opened me to myself and others in a new way, and I’m grateful and mustn’t forget to carry on believing the world has more good people in it than bad. Why only today I got an email from a high school classmate, male and very smart, who has started reading my novel and actually likes it! so far.... Made my day, a guy no less. I mean it is sort of a woman's story. Anyway, nice, huh?  People have been unfailingly kind and generous everywhere I’ve been. And now I think perhaps there really is no such thing as risk, there is only faith. As Sally Potter said, There is no NO, there is only YES. 

Years of Catholic school did teach me one valuable thing: confession may be discomfiting, but it is good for the soul. The words “I’m sorry” can be a blessed unburdening, and when they arise from a deep and stunning realization of what an ass you’ve been, that we’re all capable of cowardice and meanness toward those we love when we’re frightened, and we 'own' that as they say, a great weight is lifted, a new opening to life occurs.

                                                     And Luna moths arrive at your door.

field  nearby where we walk 

mothers day mementos, pot of forget me nots... sweet girls.

1 comment:

  1. Darling Cath. What a fabulous blog post. Thank you for my little mention. You are one of the bravest souls and brightest stars I know (you know that thing about real friends being stars, right? You don't always see them but you know they are there). You write from the heart and it shines through. No wonder you attract Luna moths. They look amazing - I'd love to see one. Still hoping we can meet up in the Fall