Autumn creeps in Haslemere unnoticed. Only subtle hints would suggest it’s already taking its rightful place in time. This week’s mornings have started with sunshine. Now each morning I open up my eyes a rather cool light makes its way in. Unobserved the night has spun its coat further into the realms of the day. Only during mid-day does the sun stretch its rays to earth. At this time of year Haslemre resembles the inside of a seashell. It starts with one color and ends in another. Outside it’s neither warm nor cold. It’s a time gap when two seasons prepare for earth. One has to go; the other has to step in. Summer will migrate to another part of the world and autumn has arrived in ours.
The carpet of golden orange leaves gets larger by the day. The branches above still wear green but some of them are already bald. I take a leaf. It is curled and crisp. It is brown, red and orange, like the tail of a red squirrel. It is a beautiful sight: I hold the passing of time in my hands.
Before my feet a small creature of autumn, stretches and curls in a wave like movement. Tiny feet move without tire across the bumpy ground. Its back is jet black, covered with orange spots. The body is covered in an armor of spiky hairs. Students from “Goethe” might know it as Imalo, the ABC teacher. Other, like Henri might know it as Absolem. But for the most it goes under the name of…caterpillar.
As I was cleaning the table outside under the warm summery sun, a butterfly settled on the leaf in front of me. It wasn’t any type of butterfly. It was a Horia. For those of you who don’t know what a Horia is:
It might have been two years ago on a similar day- sunny, warm day in September- that our garden from Romania received an unexpected visitor:
This butterfly was sunbathing on one of our roses when Brutus saw it. He came from behind, giving the Red Admiral no time to react. Zbuff! A paw in the head and those were the end of its days. Luckily, before Brutus could feast upon his prey, I snatched it away. It was so frail, so weightless. A breeze blew the corpse from my outstretched palm. The insect floated and then fell on to the ground. Although the movement lasted less than ten seconds I couldn’t forget it. It was so ironical, so horribly ironical. The wind was inviting its partner to live once more. It didn’t realize it had lost its friend… The wind’s friend was stiff and dead, lying on the grass. It couldn’t hear the breeze’s voice anymore.
I named the butterfly Horia. It has become the family’s butterfly. It’s Horia.
Since then I see a Horia each year, at about the same period. The wings of a Horia will always carry memories. I like to think that each time a Horia shows up, the moments are recorded. My feelings of that present are recorded on its wings. And then if I ever get to Heaven, maybe I’ll get to see them.