Lost In The Sanctuary of the Great Helen

Posted: June 8, 2009 in butterflies, macro photography

The Intrepid Adventurer

Yoda of the Butterflies brought me to a clearing via what I would call a rabbithole trail (small, narrow, not easy to spot but plenty) one afternoon.  And while he rustled away quietly in the distance, I thought I saw a Pandita Sinope Sinope.  And as it flew away, and Yoda rustled into view, he said he saw a female colour sergeant flying around.  There was no way of telling what it was that day but since I didn't have a good shot of either, I thought I would come back again another morning to search for this butterfly.

And then it hit me while I was crashing around and struggling my way around several fallen trees when I came back one morning that:

1) Every rabbithole trail probably leads to a large sunlit clearing

2) That's probably how Yoda had been managing to disappear and reappear… away and back through these tiny little rabbithole trails

Note on photo above: Whiiippppp! The Chocolate Demon shows us why it doesn't need to land in order to feed.

Note on chocolate demon: Have you ever come across such an entertaining butterfly?

Here it is on the left pretending to be a horse.  And over on the right, pretending to be Batman.

With this revelation in mind, I enthusiastically took on some of these tiny paths with the intent that I would turn around as soon as it looked like I would need more than a good sense of direction to find my way back (less confidence, more trail markers please.)

Note on photo above:  Here the chocolate demon pretends to be all proper, posing nicely for the camera.

But enthusiasm (and curiosity) punched the lights out of common sense and quickly steered me down a deep trench like trail. 

I came to a fallen tree and would have turned back, but for bright spray paint marks on the fallen tree beckoning the careless adventurer …. whispering "this way this way this way …"

I followed and followed, coming closer and closer to what looked like a bright sunlit clearing.  When I came to the edge, I was immediately greeted by a tail-less Narrow Spark which I almost stepped on!

Note on photo above: The narrow spark is narrower and less sparkly without its tails.

Immediately passing the narrow spark, the banded demon hopped into view.

Note on photo above: The banded demon was at the entrance of the clearing and while trying to follow it around, I walked right into the Sanctuary of the Great Helen

The Sanctuary Of The Great Helen

When I looked up from trying to trace the banded demon, I realised I was standing in the middle of a grassy clearing with one tall tree and several shorter ones around it.

And then down from the tall tree with tiny colourful flowers, the Great Helen came swooping down like a bird, its broad wings sweeping gracefully across the grass unlike the flustered busy movements of other smaller Papilionidae.

Two huge whitish patches appeared and disappeared hynoptically with every movement of his wings as he glided down and then swooped back up unhurriedly onto the tall tree.

I followed him around and around.  He hardly flew far from the tall tree.  He swept over me, came close, flew away, perched just out of reach all in one seamless fluid, unhurried movement.  He was always out of reach so I took a few shots of him peering down at me from his perch or his inky black back from afar.

After a while he tired of me, and flew down the rabbithole trail from which I had come from.

After the Great Helen disappeared, I made me way past the clearing to another trail.  The paint marks were deceiving however.  They whispered for you to follow and were always visible when you were following the trail but they disappeared the moment you turned back and tried to retrace your steps.

Note on photo above: A casualty of my desperation at getting through the creeping brush while I was in the clearing.  I plucked it off my sleeve when I saw it struggling but it died.  I took a photo of it and later as I struggled through the brush in my panic with camera bumping everywhere, when I had reached the trench, and knelt down in relief, the photo appeared on the camera like a warning.

Girl vs Wild: Overconfidence is Key to Getting Lost

I had difficulty retracing my steps back to the clearing.  But I followed the sun and returned to the clearing.  But when I tried to leave the clearing back to the trench, I got desperately lost.   

Note on photo above: The dark shady environment inside the trail and its dark shady mothy inhabitants

Funny thing was, the trench was just there, literally some metres away from the Sanctuary hidden in tall brush.  I had almost fallen down the trench while I was trying to photograph the Chocolate Demon and realised it was there.

But there was no foothold at this area.  In order to get down I would have to jump down a man's height and I was afraid I would fall awkwardly and break something.  I decided to use the rabbithole trail from which I had come from…(and I was also hoping of finding the Great Helen again).

I was confident it would not be difficult to find the trench because it was so close.

But… after walking for some time, I realised I was taking far longer to get to the trench than I had taken to get from the trench to the clearing. 

When I turned around thinking that I could follow the sun and paint marks back to the clearing and start over, I realised there were several sunspots which all looked the same… and NO paint marks ANYWHERE.

Note on photo above: After all the panicking, the Malay Tailed Judy consoled me by allowing me to get up close for a photo.

Girl vs Wild: Don't Panic

After all my Divemaster training to not panic, don't panic, stop, think and act… I went ahead and panicked anyway. I ran in one direction and then turned around and ran in another direction.  And all I could hear in my head was the sound of my heart and myself screaming: "Don't panic don't panic don't panic!" and denial "I can't be lost! I can't be lost! I can't be lost! Please don't let me be lost!"  

Girl vs Wild: Fate?

I could at this point start telling you that I used a compass… and a map… to get myself out.

But I didn't use my compass.  Which I DID have on me.

Nor a map (cos I didn't have one).

Because I was concentrating on panicking.

I simply ran till I nearly fell headlong into the trench.

I could have run myself to pieces in a totally opposite direction away from the trench until I ended up who knows where.  But I guess I was not fated to get that lost or break my neck that day.

Note on Cicada: I've never seen such a pretty cicada before… look at those spotted wings.

The Story From Mabuhay Magazine: The Sun, The Moon & The Cicada

I was in the gym after an adventurous day getting lost on the trail when I came across a story about why the Cicadas cry when the sun sets. 

Note on disfigured butterfly above: ARGH!!!! No Palpi!!?!?! What happened?! Who ate your furry little face!!?!?!?

According to the story, the Sun and the Moon were husband and wife and they had a child (Cicada… Huh… I would have thought that the Sun and Moon could have more.. .erm… or kinda less earthy, insecty offspring… no?).

The Sun had a heated quarrel with the Moon which resulted in:

1) The Moon beating the Sun up with a broom and hence its broom like sun rays

2) The Sun pouring hot scalding water over the Moon and hence the Moon's disfigured face

3) The Moon dropping her sun onto the Earth when the Sun poured hot water on her face

4) The Sun and the Moon got a divorce thus they are never seen together

5) The Cicada always cries when the sun sets because he's sad that his parents are no longer together

It's such a sad story.

Note on photo: I showed this photo to Yoda of the butterflies thinking it was some new species of yellow fringed apefly. 

But as it turns out it was just a dirty little apefly who had been frolicking in some yellow pollen or something… looks like apeflies are quite game at putting their faces into plenty of things, not just my trail pants! HEH!!!

Look at that impish face… almost as if it's saying: "It wasn't me! I didn't do it!"

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