Monday, October 17, 2011

All of an Autumn Afternoon . . .

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A quiet autumn Sunday afternoon in northern France, just starting to think about getting out and going for a walk along some ponds not far from here, when la Grenouille said, "Quick, come see, there are butterflies outside." So picking up the camera, out I went, and sure enough, the hedge along the side of the yard which had just put out some green flowers (talk about a late bloomer !) was crawling with butterflies of a variety I hadn't recalled seeing around here before. So, click, clack, Kodak, went the camera, and the following pictures are what resulted.
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Sometimes one doesn't have to go far afield to find captivating subject matter. In case you're curious, this is Vanessa atalanta, of the Nymphalinae family. It simply astounds me that such vivid colors can exist in nature. Orange on black like that; what evolutionary purpose did that serve ? Even if it is purely decorative, how on earth did these vibrant colors in such harmonious patterns come to be ? It boggles the mind. But then, my mind is easily boggled, as you might have come to conclude by now.
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Her (well, if she's named "Vanessa", it must be a "her", right?) antennae seemed to be lit up at the ends... I wonder what she does with them ?
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Vanessa wasn't the only one out there enjoying these Fall blooms... Mr. Bumblebee was out buzzing about as well, they were sharing the wealth.
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A closer look reveals subtle shadings that I would have never been able to even begin to create if I'd sat down and put pastel crayons to paper.
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And then we were off for our stroll by the ponds known as les Etangs de Commelles, where quiet paths go along the water for quite a good walking distance. Some autumn colors are starting to come out. Does the orange in the butterfly wings help it blend in against autumn leaves ?  Or was Vanessa atalanta simply afraid that no one would look at her if she didn't put on some bright colors ?
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Reflections abound in the still water of the ponds, which have been there since the 13th century when they were constructed by monks from a nearby monastery.
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At one end of the stretch of water stands the Chateau de la Reine Blanche, whose origins date from around 1300. Columbus wouldn't "discover" America until nearly 200 years later. Visible history like this is what I love about France.
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The ponds were created along a small river by monks long ago to make a place for fish to breed. Even today people are still pulling fish out of those ponds. And no small fry either !!!
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These gentlemen watch over the water night and day, day and night, though one had turned his head to speak with a pigeon.
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Just under the balcony there were four most fearsome dragons perched there. Blurred by the rippling water in the reflected image above, this gives you a better idea.
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When they start stoking up their internal fires in preparation for taking off and soaring about the countryside to wreak havoc by burning down towns and hamlets, the light around them is transformed.
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Or perhaps it was the magic lantern hanging between the dragons that transformed the light ? One never knows what magic lanterns are capable of, their powers are strange and mysterious.
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20 comments:

Cindy said...

Delightful post! I am astounded by the butterflies as well. So much to see here! thanks for sharing.

louciao said...

The magic lantern has once more illumined luminous beauty. From velvet wings through history extant to fish tales to armour clad Frenchmen talking pigeon English while perched upon fire-breathing dragons. A typical walk in the park with Mr. Toad: extraordinaire!

JeannetteLS said...

I have not been to France for thirty-seven years now... And I never made it out of Paris. I love these pictures and your walk.

And about the history. WHen I was in paris we went to some little market in which there was a bin of small Chinese hangings made of silks and brocades and a big sign "plus que cent ans." Some were three hundred years old, some five... but only Americans were concerned with whether they were more than 100 years old.

We ate in a restaurant below street level that had been a monastery in the twelfth century.

I had not thought of this living history, the ancient next to the new, in many years. I'm glad I checked your post tonight.

English Rider said...

Vibrant colors in leaf and wing. Thanks for taking us along on your walk. Who would ever underestimate a Magic Lantern?

Clytie said...

Vanessa stole my heart with her tapestries ...

Then you had to go for the walk around the monastery ... I couldn't get enough!

The dude talking with the pigeon made me laugh.

Thank you for this wonderful post, Owen!

Lady Mondegreen's Secret Garden said...

You are lucky to have red admirals and diverse bees feeding on Hedera canariensis (I think). Ivy flowers more often seem to draw flies. Beautiful intense shots especially of the mossy brown scales.
Love the inverted chateau, and the fiery dragons. I have to confess to doctoring the Soundman in my latest post...
Yes, many New Zealanders have that fascination with anything over 100 years old too. (Which is why Saj and I are feel so sad about lost Christchurch - it was the oldest thing we had around us.
Anyway a treat to share your autumn walk with you and la Grenouille :-)

mythopolis said...

A wonderful collection of images! And something allegorical about the butterfly and the bumble bee.

Online Photography Courses said...

You truly understands how to cope your camera with a naked eye. I must say Excellent piece of work & great Collection of Nature's Photography.

Steve said...

Must be balmier weather where you are... all the butterflies have been gone for months here in my part of the UK!

Piamuizphil said...

Quelles magnifiques couleurs d'automne ! Le reflet de l'arbre rouge dans l'eau et la mouette qui passe tranquillement devant. Et fabuleux aussi, l'abeille et le papillon goûtant cette fleur. Un véritable tableau !
Quant au reflet du château de la reine blanche, la tête en bas, cela change les idées ! Superbe

Jenny Woolf said...

I specially like the butterfly photos, and the close up is truly wonderful. What a lot of marvellous things there are to see which we usually just ignore, or catch a glimpse of in passing.

Sometimes I think reflections of buildings are more interesting than the buildings themselves! the ripples of water give them a mysterious air.

lgsquirrel said...

I am amazed that you found and captured so much beauty in your stroll.

ρομπερτ said...

Such wings can only provide peace, beauty and harmony.
May their wind remain at your place for a long time.

Owen said...

Ah, good people, your words are music to my ears...

Maria O. Russell said...

Suitable names, I think, for such a beautiful butterfly.

A certain Greek goddess would approve!

Your creativity and sense of humor are stunning, M. Owen.

Thak you so much.

Springman said...

Killer post Mr.Owen. Masterful. It is a nature post, a historical jaunt, and a philosophical flight through your fertile visions. Oh! the issues you raise. You wonder how orange against black might serve some evolutionary advantage. I wonder if Natural Selection doesn't serve as more of a self-imposed limitation to thought than the good old theory of Intelligent design. After all, what theoretical evolutionary advantage does "blogging" impart us? Things sometimes just go bump in the night! It could be the dark energy of Unintelligent Design!
Here's what I did with your incredible architectural reflection photographs; flipped my laptop screen over 180 degrees and scrolled down till I couldn't see dry land anymore; just the dreamy reflections turned on their heads. Beautiful! Forgive this trespass but I'd play this post backwards if I could to shake it down for hidden messages to us, your expectant fans. How do you keep producing such wonderful artistic output month after month? It's one of life's great pleasure to see the visions cast by the Magic Lantern!
Cheers to you Sir!

Owen said...

Dear Springman (with Autumn coming on fast)

When I win the lottery, which is imminent, (any day now, any day... !) may I hire you as press agent for the Magic Lantern Show ?

Nobody writes praise like you do. I swear, I think Tom Robbins is your cousin, for you have the same genes necessary for writing sentences that seem like animated movies that grab one's attention and shakes it inside out, leaving us breathless after the ride...

(the "Any day now, any day" above is of course to be hummed to the tune of Bob Dylan's I Shall Be Released... :-)

Thanks kind knight of the blog table...

James said...

Outstanding post and once again outstanding reflections!

Stickup Artist said...

What a splendid afternoon! i can't imagine getting all this eye candy in on one outing! Those fish are the most beautiful ugly I've ever seen! You did a wonderful job getting those butterfly shots. My favorites are the fall trees reflecting in the water with the white bird flying thru and the knight conversing with the pigeon. I also like how the bright orange weaves its way throughout the post. The seasons are a wonderful thing to experience!

Karine A. said...

ta Vanessa s'appelle aussi Cynthia , ou encore " belle dame". C'est une grande sportive , elle effectue des voyages de plusieurs milliers de kilomètres. C'est une espèce migratrice hivernant en Afrique du Nord et migrant en Europe au printemps, dans l'autre sens à l'automne. Les papillons, se déplaçant par groupe de quatre ou cinq à une vitesse voisine des 50 km/h, peuvent couvrir près d'un millier de km en un jour, ne faisant que de rares pauses pour se nourrir sur les fleurs de chardon
( source : Wikipédia)