Friday, September 2, 2011

Growing Up Creepy - pt. 3 - Of Bugs and Gym Class

Hey ya'll!

I made another trip to the forested area again today - as a sort of semi-reward for finishing my Marilyn Monroe essay ahead of schedule - because I was hoping to see, amongst the familiar faces of golden orioles, zebra doves and eggfly butterflies, some other forms of life there and sure enough, the forest did not disappoint. That is not to say, though, that there were animals and insects simply crawling up to me to be observed, photographed, and identified. But rather, I knew from all my years of experience, that underneath all the 'obvious' sort of living things that make a huge song and dance about their presence in the area - the boisterous birds, for example, or the flashy, drunken butterflies - there exists a whole different sort of life in the undergrowth, one that for the better part of its life, keeps to itself, hiding, living and breathing in their own secret and private world just waiting to be discovered by someone like myself. I must say, armed this time with a tub of roll on mosquito repellent, I was not attacked so much by the horde of mosquitoes that seemed to guard the forest area jealously from anyone who may intrude upon it (for whatever the reason!) although I suppose it was only expected that one or two would get through my defenses. So giddy on blood they must've been that I could just callously put my finger over them, pressing gently as the blood - my blood! - squirted out of their abdomens. At any rate, the mosquitoes were the last thing on my mind - a small hinderence at most - and I daresay I must have developed some immunity to them by now. Soon though, and before I had any time to go about on all fours poking tentatively at the debris in the undergrowth, a flash of color already caught my eye - a beautiful Painted Jezebel (delias hyparete) on its rare sojourns below the forest canopy - and I briskly whisked out my net, and started after it!

The Painted Jezebel Butterfly (Delias Hyparete)

However, let's go along a different track today for I do not wish to bore you anymore about my natural exploits in the "forest area" - and indeed there have been many over the span of a few days - rather, I suppose you would prefer instead to know of something which I had recollected from my childhood earlier today, in between chasing my butterflies and dodging the armies of mosquitoes (who truly seemed out for my blood despite the copious amounts of repellent I'd slathered on every exposed part of my body, yes. Even my face!). But I digress. Now, I suppose from the accounts of what I get up to during my free time and the sort of activities I like, you may assume that I do not consider myself in anyway anything of an athletic person. That is to say - though in my defense I would say that I am fit enough to perform most of the physical tasks required of one who likes to traverse these forested areas in search of anything with more than four legs - I have never quite enjoyed taking part in actual athletic abilities. Team sports, for example, and other things like that. The reason for it? - well, I suppose I have none. I believe it is one of those things, like Chinese food - you either like it, or you don't. It really is quite as simple as that, and so while actual physical exertion has never been a problem for me, I used to try my best to weasel my way out of any sporting activity, you might imagine the school used to make us take part in, on a weekly basis. Besides, there were more interesting things to do while everyone else was buzy chasing a ball around the field, like observing the dragonfly larvae accumulated in the stagnant ditches, or chasing those tea-saucer sized spiders down their nest holes.

The anecdote begins sometime when I was around the age of ten or eleven. It was physical education again and as usual, the boys had all gone off to play football, or soccer or something and the girls, volleyball. Trying to get out of it - so that I could go off on my own to search for my bugs - I purposely hid my sports attire in my school bag claiming to the teacher that I did not have the proper gear to play. Needless to say, he didn't take that too kindly, but instead of just letting me go with a sort of disappointed, resigned grimace on his face, I suppose he decided to punish me this time. Or at least, he meant to. So anyway he said to me (and of course, I do not remember ALL of what he said word for word, but it went something like this); "So, you like spending so much time digging for bugs huh? Well, guess what! I'm going to punish you now. In one hour, you better return with at least 30 different kinds of insects, or you will have to stand in the middle of the field, in the hot sun for the next period! (Yeah, they used to come up with punishments like that back in the days before child abuse became an issue). Needless to say, what he meted out as punishment, I took upon myself as a personal challenge and upon completion of my deadline of one hour, I returned to him with no less than 28 different specimens, butterflies, moths, dragonflies and their nymphs, grasshoppers, crickets and even spiders and very small scorpions, and as he picked them up - each in their own individual containers as they waved their legs, stings or antennae indignantly at him - I could look, bordering almost on respect, on his face. It was priceless. "Well you still are short of two!" he said, and I waited for the punishment to be executed promptly. Instead, all I received was a stern, "Now go back to class!"

Male of the Lemon Emigrant butterfly (Catopsilia Pomona)
Certainly one of the high points in my early childhood but if you will allow me now to direct you momentarily to the present, I will boast on my catch of the lemon emigrant butterfly (catospilia pomona) a most beautiful species with a handsome yellowish-greenish-blue tinge to its wings which I have been chasing for the past few weeks! I also saw several species of swallowtails there today, possibly the common mormon (papilio polytes) and the common rose (pachiliopta aristolochiae) but didn't manage to catch any. And before I left - sidetracked from my original mission to search for other unseen species by the colorful butterflies - I did manage to spot a particularly colorful lizard, what I believe is the oriental garden lizard (Calotes Vesicolor)

A very interesting species, the male Oriental Garden Lizard (Calotes Vesicolor) develops a bright red and orange coloration during breeding season - to intimidate other males and to impress the ladies - leading them to be called, in Ceylon, by the name "bloodsucker"

A kiss may be grand but it won't pay the rental on your humble flat, 
or help you at the automat. 

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