I have struggled, writes Michael McCarthy, for the Independent, to find a way of expressing my elation at seeing the first butterfly of the year. Have you seen yours?
It was a brimstone, a bright yellow brimstone, he continues. Using science, and rationality, I can tell you quite a lot about it: that it was an insect; that it belonged to the butterfly family Pieridae, the whites… that in its caterpillar stage it had fed on the plants buckthorn or alder buckthorn; and that it had hibernated disguised as a leaf, probably in an ivy clump, until the first warm day in March woke it up.
But that doesn’t really describe it, he muses. That brimstone electrified me instantly; it was the sign of the turning year, not just of the warm times coming again but of the great rebirth of everything, the great unstoppable renewal, and the brilliance of its colour seemed to proclaim the magnitude of the change it was signalling…
My dad and I had a similar experience when walking through some gentle countryside in the late afternoon sunshine this week. We¹d already savoured the spectacle of a buzzard circling low, and a heron hauling itself up and away like something prehistoric. But what thrilled us the most was the unmistakable silhouette against the blue sky above us, of the first swallow of the year.
Such a small signal of what’s to come - my mind raced to cricket, fresh-cut grass, rivers, beer gardens, sunsets – but one that lifted the spirits and touched our souls in a way that left us walking in cheerful, contemplative silence, for a few moments, buoyed by a shared inkling.
The turning of the year, as McCarthy puts it: the rebirth of everything, the great unstoppable renewal… I’d say he did a pretty good job of describing what we can sense, deep down, on a weekend such as this, when the world spins towards the light, and a season turns before our eyes.
So look for opportunities to experience the wonder of nature with your team.
Michael McCarthy’s full article about science and beauty is here.