An errant throw from Eddie and the Frisbee, a flying saucer gone out of control, somehow passed through the hedge and alighted on the margin of the road beyond.
In the moment of landing a shard of vermillion was released, fizzing from the tangled bank. There was a fractional lag in response while I thought.
“Dad! The Frisbee!”
“Just wait a minute.”
Then I had it, as I should have done at once of course. And I was rather pleased.
Cinnabar moth. Flies in the day: you can see me for miles but I don’t care. You can’t eat me because I’m toxic.
Only the hindwings are that extraordinary shade of red; the forewings are dark, spotted, and rather smart. But when the moth takes to the air, all you can see is the blinding colour of those hindwings: they really do insist on being noticed.
I retrieved the Frisbee and got on with the game. But later I wondered about the little moment of satisfaction that came from knowing the name of this vivid creature, along with a few basic facts about the way it lives.
It’s about connectivity. In certain company I can drop a reference to David Gower’s form in 1985 and know it will be picked up; with others I can quote the Incredible String Band (Cousin Caterpillar, for example) confident that I’ll be understood. It’s a pleasant confirmation of things shared.
In the same way, knowing the name of this insect was a small moment of connectivity. It was confirmation that the world is still wild and that I am a small part of it. A thing shared.