Today, all day and late into the evening, I had a visitor. It was a dreary, rainy day, which was good because I am now in the laborious production stage. We went for an early morning grocery run, and then I got to work. Even though there are double glass doors in the studio, each with a somewhat annoying (but probably necessary) big translucent white X in the middle, I had the lights on because it was so overcast. At about noon, I looked up, and there he was, peering in at me.
It’s a Luna moth! They’re huge, gorgeous things, and a rare sight.
When I was oh, about 9 or 10, and lived in a town in Ohio that was partly suburban development and partly old run-down family farms, I hung out for a summer with the neighborhood science geek, the skinny smart kid with a bad haircut, knobby knees and glasses held together with strapping tape. We spent that whole summer obsessively searching for a Luna moth. He wanted to kill one with formaldehyde and stick a pin through it; he had a collection of mounted winged insect mummies containing just about every other species native to the area. Personally, I just really, really wanted to see one (OK, and hopefully scare it away before he got the jar on it). It was an enchanting creature to me, and elusive enough to be a Quest. We stayed out very, very late almost every night (in a parental bow to science on his part, by the grace of alcoholic indifference on mine), running wild in the fields and woods, wading in creeks by moonlight, because Lunas only fly at night. We never found one, but being out and free in the secret, scented dark had its own magic, a feeling which has never quite left me.
I never did see a live Luna moth until today, just mounted ones in museums (where the kid probably ended up working). My Luna stayed there all day and all night, barely moving, just seeming to stare at me. I brought other residents to see him, we shot flash photos, and still he stayed. I left for dinner, turned the lights out, and he was there when I returned. Finally, a little after midnight, I finished up; about twenty minutes later, I went back out of sheer curiosity, and he was gone. He’ll only live for a few days, but I’m glad he escaped a pin. I’ve finally seen my Luna moth, and it was still enchanting.
(I forgot to say: the day before, deep in the woods on top of a steep rocky ridge just before sunset, I saw a huge Great Horned Owl, also fascinating. But they eat Lunas).