Jack in-the-box

Running is good for you. I’ve been doing a lot of it lately. What running is not good for however, is seeing wildlife. Suffering from a dodgy leg, I decided to slow things down this weekend and go for a walk in my urban wildlife mecca – South Norwood Country Park.


There was a smattering of sun through the cloud, and spring seemed to be uncoiling itself. The lake was quiet. I’d hoped for a spectacle of gulls, but was greeted by a few mallards instead. It is wonderful to watch the transition between graceful paddlers, diving for morsels from the lake bed, and frantic flappers as they launch from a floating start. It reminds me of the Flugtag in reverse.


In the surrounds of the lake, a few delicate blackthorn trees were in bloom, bringing with them the bees. I have missed bees a lot – something I would not have said a few years ago.


Let me tell a story…

I was probably about five years old, in the garden of my gran’s house. For some reason I wasn’t wearing any clothes and found myself in need of a wee. As one does, I found a bush and went about my business… I picked the wrong bush. Suddenly I found myself under attack from an angry mob of bees.

They swarmed me, covering my naked form from head to toe. I ran inside, which I’m sure everyone appreciated, to find my mum. I don’t remember how she appeased the bees, but I was left unharmed, without a single sting. To this day I’ve not been stung. I don’t even get bitten by mosquitoes (much to the annoyance of everyone I’ve ever travelled with).

Anyway, this early traumatic bee encounter left me terrified of anything that buzzed past me, up until now. Now I can get within a few inches of a bee and gaze at its pollen sacs without heart palpitations. I suppose it wasn’t the bees’ fault. They were just pissed off about being pissed on. Long live the bees. Wasps though… wasps can fuck off.



Having watched the bees I felt content. I had half expected to see nothing at all as it was still quite cold. As I turned away from the blackthorn, something almost brushed my face. A comma butterfly danced past me and sat in the grass at my feet. There is something incredibly special about your first butterfly of the year. I liked commas before, but now I adore them. I adore them so much I wrote this non-haiku haiku.

All of a flutter,

heart beat stutters,

burnt orange butter flies by.


I really hadn’t thought to see butterflies yet, but I’m mighty pleased I did. Soon after the comma, a Red Admiral performed the very same maneuver. I was in lepidoptera paradise. I enjoy birds, but butterflies give me a real high.


What will your first butterfly be?

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