Common Red Poppy, Papaver rhoeas
Dip pen, Indian ink & watercolour
4.45 pm: THREE SMOKY BROWN butterflies fly around our little sun-trap of a meadow, two of them are chasing each other. They’re all fresh-looking, as if recently emerged and don’t look as if they were out in the torrential rain a week ago.
They’re darker than Meadow Browns, and slightly, very slightly, smaller. The name refers to the ringed eye-spots on the wings but the feature that registered with me was the light-coloured margin. I noticed this along the rear edge of the hind-wing but it fringes the sides of both wings too.
The trailing edge of the Ringlet’s hind-wing is smooth rather than scalloped (as it is in the Meadow Brown). This might sound like a subtle difference but it changes the character, the jizz, of the butterfly.
A Song of Summer
It’s great to have my own little meadow area, even though it’s so small; a 7 foot triangle sown with a meadow mix, with a strip of imported (from North Yorkshire) meadow turf across one end. I can pop down there with my canvas chair and just start drawing.
What I miss though is the meadow soundtrack; nothing but the rustle of leaves, the hum of insects, the call of birds. That would be lovely; that kind of peace has always meant a lot to me. It’s one of the reasons that we head to the Lake District for a break, rather than a vibrant resort such as Blackpool. But this little wedge of meadow is in semi-detached suburban garden so the soundtrack is dominated by next door’s kids screaming. Heigh ho.
Okay, I’ll admit that they are screaming happily except when it comes, as it inevitably does as the excitement builds, to injury time! Boisterous children’s play has long been a part of the song of summer;
Whenas the rye reach to the chin,
And chop-cherry, chop-cherry ripe within,
Straw berries swimming in the cream,
And schoolboys playing in the stream
George Peel, The Old Wives’ Tale, 1595
(used by Benjamin Britten in his Spring Symphony)