Ringlet Triangle

 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.

My first thought is that they’re Meadow Browns and that would be appropriate as the first butterfly to appear while I’m drawing in my newly revamped meadow area but these are Ringlets.

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.

Meadow Brown

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)

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  1. Ah yes. The peace of the countryside is so important to our sanity. I’m blessed to live in the country and I appreciate it even more after a hectic day at work. I’m watching the black silhouettes of the trees against the evening sky as I type. They’re waving gently in the breeze. Of course, I can hear the TV in the next room…sigh. Hard to truly escape civilization! Lovely drawings! It’s good to have a little patch of peaceful meadow wherever you can get it!

    1. It’s surprising how much wilderness it’s possible to fit into a 7ft triangle. I’m sure I could spend the rest of the summer studying the insects, small mammals and flowers. Barbara and I hit on an idea today; I could get some of those noise-cancelling headphones and play a wildlife sound recording of classic English meadow.

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