Sunday, October 9, 2011

Luna Moth

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Everyone in my high school biology class had to spend the summer of 1983 collecting bugs.  Some people did this the right way and went into the woods and meadows with their butterfly nets and kill jars and their field guides, seeking out the correct host plants and habitats, and then they built beautiful wood and glass display cases, mounted the insects with utmost care on tiny pins, hand-lettered labels that read Lepidoptera:  Actias luna and then got an A in biologyThe way I did it was to spend the summer of 1983 reading Tiger Beat magazine in front of the fan and picking dead moths out of the porch light fixture. 

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Some of those other kids had a Luna Moth in their collections, and I was just  stunned.  Luna Moth looked like something you’d find in another world.  They were four inches across, and had incredible, shifting, translucent, alien green-colored wings.  I had not a clue that something like that lived in my neighborhood, visiting other people’s porch lights at night like luminous ghosts.  They were as big as my hand.  It made me sort of snap to attention in biology, this knowledge that I had missed the boat completely, bug collection-wise, and that with the right kind of effort, I could have bagged myself one of those moths, mounted it properly in a glass case, and then kept it forever, displaying it like a Victorian explorer returned from the wilds of Borneo. 

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I found this pattern, called “Winged Flowers” by Mary Ellen Designs, copyright 1980, in my thrifty craft store (I know, right?) and stitched it on a napkin (also thrifted) that turned out to be just the right size weave—maybe about 18 ct?  I even had half the required DMC floss colors in my stash already, so there wasn’t any stopping me.  Would you believe I also thrifted the frame? 

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Sitting outside by the bug light at Mary Moon’s house past midnight would’ve been a good way, back then, to capture one of these, but this, now, is wonderful, too.  Not to mention being a lot nicer for the bugs.