Sunday, June 5, 2011

Nocturnal beings and night visions

Click to enlarge --- it's worth it!
What: A Polyphemus moth
Where: Window screen at my home
Observer: Abbie
Date/Time: June 5, midnight to 1 am
Conditions: Still and partly overcast
Zoom out with me, if you will, from Open Phenology's 'micro-local' focus to a 'macro-local' look at our cities on the 45th parallel. It was the night of Northern Spark, the Twin Cities' first nuit blanche featuring participatory art activities from dusk to dawn across Minneapolis and St. Paul. I was at home working on a painting when this spectacular moth alit on my screen. It clung motionless and permit me a few photographs. While it's difficult to judge scale from this image, this species has a wingspan of about 6". As my friend David aptly observed, it's like a lucky rabbit's foot with wings attached.

The Polyphemus is an astonishing creature. Its larva hatch in synchronized broods and undergo a series of moltings followed by a final metamorphosis into the adult moth. Their existence as moths is remarkably fleeting. Individuals live only a few days, just long enough to mate and start the next generation.

Above: Vortex Navigation Company perform "Let's Light a Light," YouTube media by Sean Connaughty (recorded March 2010)

View from within Sky Pesher
By 2 am I had left the lone moth and was nestled into Sky Pesher for Nightshift's headphone concerts. As I listened to Vortex Navigation Company perform "Let's Light a Light," I gazed into the square of sky and envisioned a choreography of great moths, aloft on plumes of pheromones and lured by the light. And I thought of the city, pulsing with blinking bike lights and illuminated with creative phenomena.

Open Phenology is teaching me that for every event I witness, a staggering multitude of events go unseen. As I drove home in the 4 am darkness, the American Robins discerned and heralded the light, commencing a dawn chorus 90 minutes prior to sunrise.

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