Sunday, November 11, 2012

November 11: Moth

To make the most of yesterday's sunlight and relative warmth, and hopefully find some interesting birds (winter finches are arriving all over Maine now), I spent a couple of hours walking around my neighborhood, binoculars around my neck. I ended my outing in the cemetery just a couple of blocks away from home at the base of Mount Battie. The sinking sun cast a pink glow on the craggy west-facing talus slope of Mount Battie and gave added definition to the headstones.

I've always enjoyed walking around cemeteries--for the quiet, for the glimpse into a community's history, for the variety of inscriptions and engravings on the stones. Cemeteries are poignant places, orderly reminders of the ever-present fact of mortality. This cemetery in particular has meaning for me because some of my own family are buried here: my grandfather, great-grandparents, and a great-uncle.   

So it was in a pensive state of mind that I wandered the neat rows of headstones as the shadows lengthened. I paused in front of one old stone to read a moving inscription, something along the lines of, "Here all our hopes lie lost." That's when something weird happened. A little brown moth fluttered by. As I wondered if it might be one of those winter species that tolerates cold weather, it headed right toward me and fluttered against my lips. It fluttered there for so long, several seconds, that I eventually had to brush it away. 

Kissed by a moth. In a cemetery. Hard not to read some deeper meaning into that--a visitation from a soul wandering loose among the stones, some sort of reminder to cultivate silence... But the rational side of my brain wants to tell me that the moth was undoubtedly just drawn to something mundane like the heat of my breath or the carbon dioxide of my exhalations. 

Moth's fluttery kiss--
a restless spirit
or my honey lip balm?

Postscript: Poetic license aside, I wasn't actually wearing any lip balm...

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