About time


 I have been making my own birthday cards all through lockdown. I have not been able to get to the shops, so I have tried my hand at producing homemade greetings. Now, I am not so sure it was a good idea. No one has said they do not like them; it is just that they have not said anything at all. My efforts were not a great success.

It is my sister’s birthday and this time I have resorted to buying on the internet – having learnt my lesson. But even that is not as easy as it seems there is such a variety. In the end I plumped for a selection of wildlife pictures which will surely do for anyone.

I chose one with a butterfly on for my sister, but I was late which is surprising as I have nothing else to do. The card needed to get there the next day. The little box on our lane did not have a collection so off I went to our main post office.

There I was on the pavement which I last stood on a year ago. I rushed to the box and heard the plop of the card before darting back to the safety of my car. All was well but I doubt that the card will be on time.

Thinking of that card, I have seen some butterflies flying in our garden already. There are the two ‘reds’ which have spent the winter as adults in a safe dry crevice. There is the tortoise shell with its black and blue edged wings and the peacock with its two circles, like eyes. They are looking for early flowers with nectar to feed on.

But the one I have been watching mostly is the orange tip butterfly. Early April is the time to see him. You can tell it is the male because he has orange blotches on his white forewings, the female has black markings. He was flying up and down not stopping even to feed.

What is the hurry? Well, he is exploring his new territory and is looking for a female. Unlike the reds, orange tips have just hatched from their chrysalis where they were safe in the winter. The female will be waiting for him, where she will lay her eggs, in plants such as honesty, hedge garlic and ladies’ smock. They will all be flowering very soon.

These butterflies time their emergence to coincide with the growth of plants that their future caterpillars will eat. They are much better timekeepers than me. Nature is programmed and synchronised and, if left unhindered, will never miss a birthday, whatever the weather.

(Taken from my Thursdays' column in the Shropshire Star)


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