Saturday, November 12, 2016

land of mothra

For five years, I lived in a state of nature. Or, as close as one can get to the Rousseauian ideal while still living in a house with running water.

The house I rented in Villa Obregón was nestled in a garden with almost every plant imaginable, snug on the shores of a great primal lagoon. I was Adam in Eden -- with no Eve. It was practically perfect in every way.

And what would Eden be without animals? Almost every day a new creature would wander into the crosshairs of my camera. Turtles. Frogs. Lizards. Crabs. Birds. Peculiar insects that looked more like flowers or sticks than bugs. Crocodiles. Raccoons. Opossum. Coatimundi. Rabbits. Not to forget the odd cat or dog that would take up residence to hunt the rest of creation.  And I gladly shared my new discoveries with you.

But that was before I moved to my concrete desert in Barra de Navidad.

Sure, the odd toad hops by. As for the list of exotic friends that kept me amused in Villa Obregón, I may as well be a hermit.

Until recently. This gaudy sphinx moth* decided to settle on a wall outside of my bedroom -- and stayed there motionless for a couple of days. As if it had been pinned into place as part of a 14-year old boy's biology project.

I assumed that it had gone the way of all things mortal. Dust to dust -- and all that.

Because a mirror test would not be very helpful (where would you place the mirror on a moth?), I decided to rely on a bit of chiropractic palpation. It moved. But not much. It was still there for a few more hours. When I next returned, it had flown away.

At least, I assumed it flew away. For all I know, a line of ants may have carved it up as prime rib. Or a bird may have decided the death charade needed a touch of reality. Either way, whatever omen it was meant to portend had served its purpose.

It was the first gaudy sphinx moth I have encountered -- as far as I can recall. And it was a welcome visitor in the straight lines of this house.

Maybe the moral (because every essay concerning the state of nature has a moral) is that it is difficult to appreciate the grace of life when surrounded by too many treasures. Scarcity builds moral character.

And that moth may be as memorable to me in the house with no name as a chorus line of crocodiles on the lagoon.

* -- That is not an editorial comment. "Gaudy sphinx moth" is the appellation it goes by.  I suspect it tells its friends, "You can just call me Gaud."

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