Thursday, September 27, 2012

Praying Mantis

The other evening, I took my husband out in the back yard, to the balsam growing three feet high by the fence, to see both the praying mantis and the hummingbird moth. The mantis, with natural camouflage that makes it look like leaves and stems, also has an abdomen that resembles the seedpods of balsam, also known as touch-me-not because these seedpods explode at a light touch!

The praying mantis was out eating baby crickets, no doubt. The hummingbird moth was exploring the nectar of the pink and pale pink blossoms. We were in twilight, and darkness settled around us, inside the awe, an expansive, opening state of mind. Then, because there were things to be done, we went inside and did them.

I've been reading After the Ecstasy, the Laundry, by Jack Kornfield, subtitled How the Heart Grows Wise on the Spiritual Path. I'm glad to be on a spiritual path, however meandering, and glad to know I'm not alone in 1) wishing the ecstasy could last and 2) needing to do the relentless laundry.

Balsam is a variety of impatiens (aka impatience), and I cannot be impatient with myself, waiting for my heart to grow wise. Sigh...

The hummingbird moth, or Hemaris, a kind of sphinx moth, has that nickname because it is, and looks like, a moth, when its wings are still, and, with its wings beating, looks like a hummingbird. In Britain and Europe, a similar moth is called the Hummingbird Hawk-moth, or Hummingmoth (love that!). I'm going to ponder the twilight confusion of the hummingbird moth and the ecstasy of warm, fresh laundry, and how good it feels to fold the clothes and deposit them in the rooms of the ones who wear them.

Here are the furiously beating wings of the humming-moth, in a photo by IronChris. Reminds me of myself, spinning my wheels in search of sweetness. Getting nowhere, but ecstatic, aloft, and up close to beauty. And, like a cartoon coyote, about to fall into the ravine...while the roadrunner, as always, gets away!

8 comments:

Collagemama said...

I just discovered hummingbird moths this spring. They are so awesome/cool/weird! We have not had any praying mantids on the school playground this year, which is very disappointing. And as for cartoon coyotes, watch out for falling anvils.

seana graham said...

You could put that whole first paragraph into poetic form, Kathleen. Beautiful.

One of my favorite books by one of my favorite authors is A Mantis Carol, by Laurens Van Der Post. Check it out sometime if you haven't already.

seana graham said...

A weird bit of synchronicity. Just after I finished posting a comment here, I hopped on over to Peter Rozovsky's blog, which is about crime fiction, and the title under discussion was Death of the Mantis, by Michael Stanley. This is again about the African mantis, but I thought you'd like the coincidence. I haven't read it, but I have heard that it is excellent.

Kathleen said...

What a wonderful Mantis Random Coinciday! I remember you telling me about A Mantis Carol. I got hold of another Laurens van der Post book, A Story Like the Wind, but I will seek out Carol when the time is right!

Cathy said...

I love Iron Chris' photo!

How do you like After the Ecstasy? We have it in the store, but I haven't read it. It looks good. A lot of people like Kornfield's meditation CDs.

Kim said...

I didn't know that balsam and touch-me-nots are the same plant! We've had a hummingbird, a green one, hanging around our yard lately, I think for the hibiscus and four-o-clocks.

Molly said...

More synchronicity: I've been having laundry anxiety dreams. I think I need to read this book! :)

laurieclemens said...

I have never thought of the mantis's abdomen as a seedpod, but you are right, it does look like that. Love the pics of the hummingbird moth. I recently had those caterpillars on my trumpet honeysuckle vine. Not much vine left, but they were welcome visitors.