We walked a transitional zone - the spring-line at the foot of the limestone escarpment where the peat mosses begin, where the ground is soft and damp despite the heat-wave. The stony bed of the beck is dry but I know where to find water. We have breakfast seated on the stone parapet of a bridge over the catchwater, created at the time of Enclosure to drain the Lyth Valley, to divert water from the fells and channel it out to Morecambe Bay. The catchwater is overhung with meadowsweet and Greater Willow herb known as codlins and cream.. Still as a statue, a heron sits on a post seeking prey.
Once again, I am immersed in the Silver Washed Fritillary experience. They fly out of the shadows, over bracken and brambles, close to my face but rarely settling. Now one alights in bracken and here's a chance. No time to check through binoculars, I take the picture - wide angle to be sure I have it. Then I zoom in. Until I'm home I shall not know for sure what the image shows.
On our return, we walk uphill in full sun then stop for a drink overlooking the Lyth Valley. There's a trickle of water in the beck and a water-course through the pasture is muddy. Rain will be most welcome. The bramble bush where I'd hoped for one last photo-opportunity is frazzled. In days of extreme heat it has quickly flowered and set seed. How precarious the brief life of a butterfly when its nectar source is so soon over and done.
How did a woman in the 17th century go about the study of butterflies with none of the optics we all have to hand? How did she delve the life cycle of the fritillary? I'd love to see the records she made, the correspondence she shared on her observations. Here's a link to the life of Lady Eleanor and her home at Tichenham Court.
Lady Eleanor Glanville has several new admirers. From the gentleman in Witherslack Woods, I share her with my friends. I love the way moments in our personal histories ricochet, with surprise illumination, interweaving with the lives and passions of others, back and forth through time. I know Tickenham Court where Lady Eleanor died. If only we might revisit the data-base of memory, search our experience for something overlooked when our focus might have been elsewhere. If only we could pinpoint and retrieve what then we saw and bring it clearly into focus.