“Some people without brains do an awful lot of talking, don’t you think?
The Scarecrow from Oz”
In the Land of Oz, silence is the most misunderstood art of conversation, and loneliness the most steadfast companion.
Oz is a mythical place where one goes to seek wisdom. I say “goes”, but I do not reply that one “finds” the answer. For that one must be willing to listen. More than that, one must know to whom and where to listen.
[In late September of 1916, British and French soldiers renewed their attacks on German lines around Thiepval. At a heavy cost to both sides, the British took the village of Thiepval. Heavy rains fell the first week of October, turning the fields to mud and silencing the guns for a moment. The Daily Telegraph ran the headline, A Quiet Break on the Front.
I am touring the battlefields. Outside the memorial at Thiepval to the more than 72,000 missing British soldiers, whose bodies were never recovered, there in fields in the wheat, I spot a ladybug waiting for an aphid to eat.]
The curious history of the Ladybug should be told. It is an old tale, whispered by children amongst themselves. Never, no not ever, told to an adult under any circumstances at all. This beetle, quite little, is delightfully charming. What’s more, surprise, it flies like a bird. So gather round children, I will tell you the tale, but promise me, to dad and mom, nary a word.
In England it is not uncommon to call a ladybug a ladybird. This delightful orange insect, which is in fact a beetle and not a bug, can fly away if threatened. English children came up with a nursery rhyme for the ladybug –
“Ladybird, ladybird fly away home, Your house in on fire and your children are gone”
One explanation for the words comes from the farmers’ custom of burning fields in late fall to rid the land of grasshoppers, aphids, and other pests. But, spare the ladybug if one can, which consumes 50 to 60 aphids a day over a two to three-year life span. In winter ladybugs don’t eat a thing, but hibernate and gather together for warmth and protection.
One other explanation of the ladybug rhyme.
The daughter of King Henry VIII, Bloody Queen Mary assumed the throne of England in 1553, after the death of her younger half-brother James. She ruled for five years. During that time, she reinstated Roman Catholicism and made her point by burning at the stake more than 280 Protestants. At her death in 1558, Elizabeth I became Queen of England and reversed Bloody Mary’s religious proclamation. The saying of Mass was outlawed and Jesuits declared traitors. Priests who continued to say Mass were often punished by being drawn and quartered, rather than burned at the stake.
Thus, the nursery rhyme was a child’s code word to watch out.
The irony is that the ladybug’s name comes from the Virgin Mary.
When their fields were plagued by aphids, farmers prayed for divine intersession. The little orange beetle came and ate the aphids, sparing the farmers’ crops. The beetle became the Ladybug.
In French, ladybug is “coccinelle,” – Insecte de forme ronde, dont le corps est rouge à pois noirs. La coccinelle est l’amie des jardiniers parce qu’elle se nourrit de pucerons .
For the heart weighed down by woe, on winter’s darkest, coldest night, the hope of Spring will cling.
I know it is the first day of summer. The temperature here in the Land of Oz has already hit 100 degrees. Not a record, that goes to May of 2014 and 2011 when it hit 100 degrees, but still one hopes the hot weather will wait until July and August.
The last throes of winter are soon forgotten, the throes of love lost never.
If cold is bitter, is heat sweet?
In April it showers and sometimes snows
In May winter’s last throes Melt in the heat of a golden sun and
In June Soon, are forgotten
The Robin has built its nest
And hatched its brood
The chicks have broken through
Now its time to rest
There is nothing left to do
Except to bake in the midday sun
And have some fun at the lake
Oh, watermelons do not ripen til August
Just before my love, I lost
She said you taste so bitter and so sweet
Like the lemonade of summer