It was hot in the grounds of the Basilica today and the archbishop’s horse chestnut trees were in unseasonal leaf and bloom; new green leaves looking relatively free of the leaf mining moth for the most part. It is a strange sight to see these spring greens sharing a branch with the withered oxide orange remnants of the summer’s war against camaria orhidella. The new buds are very sticky on this the sticky on the bud tree; and they have a sticky sort of problem.
The moth itself of course is as beautiful as the tree. Under the microscope its folded wings are like a cape of iridescent pearly silver and gold, but to the naked eye it is a 3mm long grey speck, and very easy to dismiss. So which part of nature merits my empathy? The tree whose candle like inflorescences I adore in spring and whose large broad leaves shade the paths and roads from harsh summer sun. The tree which I know recycles the air and absorbs the carbon from passing traffic… or a moth I barely notice? It is by no means proven that it is killing the trees, though I assume it must be severely weakening them.
We look at nature from the perspective of our own needs, but it is important (even for our own sakes) to question the legitimacy of this view. Patrick Leigh Fermor in his book A Time of Gifts, relates how in Slovakia he developed a passion for the work of the German poet Christian Morgernstern. One of these poems seemed in a whimsical Spike Milliganish sort of way, to lend itself to the direction of my own thoughts tonight…
At the Housefly Planet
Upon the housefly planet the fate of the human is grim: for what he does here to the housefly, the fly does there unto him.
To paper with honey cover the humans there adhere, while others are doomed to hover near death in vapid beer.
However, one practice of humans the flies will not undertake: they will not bake us in muffins nor swallow us by mistake.