Friday, October 8, 2010

Friday Field Notes--Entangled

I've seen this vine every year since coming to Japan, often with a particular, very large, black butterfly fluttering around it. The one who wouldn't sit still last week .  You'd think I'd have looked it up earlier, but that's what comes of not having a flower book until last summer.  It's called "Yabukarashi" (Cayratia Japonica). I think most people see it as a weed, but up close, it's lacy and beautiful.  See?

 Here it has made the air conditioner it's own...

But look closer...  ooh!

 ...and closer still.  A humble green vine adorned with lacy filigree.  And butterflies like it--an added bonus.
...and if you look very closely, you can see the flowers that the butterflies must have been drinking from.  Itty, wee, pale pink things.  Every year this vine takes over some body's bicycle, at least until the grass-cutters come and pull everything up by the roots.  I never see this without thinking of that Haiku...

...the one that goes

     morning glory!
    the well bucket-entangled
    I ask for water

by chiyo-ni, considered the greatest female Haiku poet.

    Yabu Karashi!
the bicycle--entangled
    I walk to work

Here is the beautiful woodcut by Utagawa depicting Chiyo-ni beside the entangled bucket...

File:Caga no Chiyo standing beside a well.jpg       ....lovely, no?

Mata asobou, ne!

p.s.--Here's the butterfly who (usually) likes the Yabukarashi vine.  I found him paying a visit to the first graders' morning glories at school (though they're nearly done now):

 Now that I look at him, (and at Koshi's bug book), this is Benimon Agehachou--a species originally from Okinawa that migrated to Honshu in 1968.  *Not* the same as last week's!  Retraction!  Benimon (pachliopta aristolochiae, or Common Rose) is a swallowtail (clearly), and the one I chased down to the ginko tree last week was *not* a swallowtail, and had red spots on the top wings, so....Nagasaki Ageha papilio memnon, "Great Mormon" in English, though I've no idea why).  And, looking more closely at the bug book--the black butterfly I usually see hovering about Yabukarashi is (nearly) completely black Jakkou Agaha, at 50-60mm he's quite spectacular.  He's one of the "Windmill" group mostly found in India and China (hence the English common name "Chinese windmill"), although this subspecies, atrophaneura alcinous,is also found in Japan. 
  Can p.s.'s be this long?


  1. oooh! I love love LOVE those photos of the entangled bicycle!

  2. That's what caught my eye too. Does it grow really fast or are those bikes parked there for days?

  3. Falen--Thanks! The neighbor kids looked at me kind of funny ("why is Koshi-mama taking a picture of that bicycle?"), but, shoganai ne (it can't be helped:)) They're kinda used to Koshi's mom doing weird things sometimes...

    Daz--Both, actually--that bike hardly ever gets used, and that vine grows fairly quickly.

    Every summer when that bike (or whichever one is parked there) gets entangled, it puts me in mind also of--who said this?--the idea that if all the humans disappeared tomorrow, the world would go on swimmingly, but if all the insects disappeared, life on earth would snuff it almost immediately. Was that E.O. Wilson? Somehow I think that's wrong...grrrr. Can't remember!

  4. It put me in mind of somebody-or-other's Law, which states that no matter how neatly put away, the garden hose will *always* end up tying all the family's bicycles together.

    "In his book The Creation, ... E O Wilson ... “People need insects,” he says, “but insects do not need us. If all humankind were to disappear tomorrow, it is unlikely that a single insect species would go extinct, except three forms of human body and head lice… In two or three centuries, with humans gone, the ecosystems of the world would regenerate back to the rich state of near-equilibrium that existed ten thousand or so years ago… But if insects were to vanish, the terrestrial environment would soon collapse into chaos.” "

  5. That's it! Thanky kindly! It's a rainy Saturday morning, and I have a house full of children:)) Not so conducive to deep thoughts...

    I think you were writing that while I was posting on your forum:)

  6. Gets complicated don't it. Some nights I seem to do nothing but click through forums looking for replies/updates. It do get addictive though!

    "Thanky kindly"? Hey, that's *my* accent! (SW England, where we *all* talk like pirates!)

  7. Well, go look at your forum again:))

    Your accent? Really? It sounds Southern to me, or maybe Cowboy...

  8. Hmm, does work in Southern drawl too... I'll let you off :-) Or y'all, as the case may be.