Minty

Minty

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This pretty thing is Pyrausta aurata, otherwise known as the Mint Moth. As its name suggests, its larvae feed on mint and similar plants such as catnip, as well as various other Simon and Garfunkel lyrics culinary plants such as sage, thyme and oregano. The adults, as you can see, are nectar-feeders. My extra today is a female Azure Damselfly – not even slightly uncommon, but the first I’ve ever seen. I was homing in on her very slowly, trying to get a really good shot of her eyes, when I was briefly distracted by something shiny and glanced away – and when I refocused I discovered that she’d seized the moment and pushed off.

Beyond that, normal wittering is suspended today: the country is in shock and mourning for the 22 people killed by a suicide bomber in Manchester last night, several of them children, the youngest only 8 years old. It’s been hard to stay away from the news and social media since then, or to think or talk about anything else. Stories of the spirit and the compassion of the people of the city have emerged over the hours, trumping the predictable outpouring of venom from those who want to spread hatred and division, and there have been comforting messages of solidarity from Europe and around the world. But oh – those babies. Families destroyed. Lives devastated. And for what?

It has all happened before, of course – R and I lived in London during the IRA bombing campaign in the 1980s – and it won’t have the desired effect now, any more than it did then. The country will carry on as normal, though people will be more vigilant as we all had to learn to be forty years ago. Ultimately, as with the IRA, the terrorists will exhaust themselves and some kind of truce will take hold, and maybe in time there will even be dialogue. But for today the possibility of talking to or negotiating with people who would target a bomb at children is utterly unthinkable. Part of a statement made by Harun Khan, Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain, read: ‚ÄúThis is horrific, this is criminal. May the perpetrators face the full weight of justice both in this life and the next” – and though I’m an atheist and I don’t believe in an afterlife, just at the moment I find it hard to disagree.