I watched from a distance as the Myna bird attacked a hapless insect and as I approached while on my power walk, it flew a short distance away. Looking down, I saw the beautiful mini wings splayed out beside the upturned body of a praying mantis and noted the stark red colour against the bright green and couldn’t help lamenting its unfortunate position. Knowing it was part of nature, I hoped the insect’s demise would be quick and painless
A year or so before, I saw a sight that I will always remember. It was a writhing, struggling mass of black caterpillars with bright-yellow spikes on either end of the body and from afar, the bulk looked like a dark, splattered cowpat.
I will admit, I recoiled when I initially saw them and quickly continued on my walk. On the return journey however, I noted with surprise that the tiny caterpillars had moved about a meter in the 25 or so minutes my walk had taken. I could see that their destination was a big, leafy, gum tree located nearest the concrete path. Curious, I stooped to look at them.
On closer inspection, I noted that the caterpillars were heaped one upon the other and all moved in unison to a timed rhythm. In a fanciful state, I imagined a Disney cartoon with the lead-caterpillar barking the orders in a sergeant-major tone of voice while leading his troop forward to a cry of “Forward lads, keep moving! Come on fellas, we can do it.”
Fascinated, I continued to watch and noticed that the heaving and wriggling clump had a pattern to its purpose. The lead caterpillar would start up and the entire body of caterpillars would tremble and crawl forward in sustained effort and they continued until the head of the group stopped. I noted with delight that the ceasing of movement would steadily transfer down the chain until the last lot of caterpillars stopped. Their rest was brief and although I did not time it, it appeared to be about a minute before once again, the lead caterpillar would start the movement again. It reminded me of the adage, ‘no rest for the wicked,’ but it also brought to mind the single-minded purpose of nature in its cycle of birth, breeding and death.
I couldn’t help admiring this consistent and determined band and marvelled at how far they had progressed since my initial sight of them. I, reluctantly left them to continue their focussed journey and couldn’t help pondering on the fact that I had initially found them repugnant but ended up appreciating and seeing the beauty in their being.
© Wendy Robinson 2014
In all things of nature there is something of the marvellous. ~ Aristotle