I love to walk. One route I like to go on, goes by a giant oak that I call the Four Finger Tree. The trunk rises up about 7 feet, then divides to four major branches that continue up another 30 feet or so. When I walked by this tree, I also noticed that at eye level there is a small, cut out, square piece of bark, about 3/4″ square and a quarter of an inch deep. The gash stands out from the other gray bark with a more yellow tan wood color – the color of a tree freshly stripped of its bark.
I don’t know how it got there, but it must be man made because it is an exact square shape – the shape that someone would have carved in the tree using a knife.
Being somewhat superstitious, I always touch this button on the tree for good luck when I pass it. So it went for years.
One day I was passing the tree, and the tree cut out square was gone.
Wait a minute, I say to myself. Trees don’t heal. I looked and looked but it was gone – all the tree bark was the same mottled gray blotches of bark sticking out on a slightly darker gray background bark – the usual oak trunk ….
No really, trees don’t heal, I say to myself until I’m convinced. I can’t let this go, I can’t go on. I’ve got to figure this out. What is going on?
I look and look and it’s all bark. This goes on for about a full minute or two. Remember this is eye level, and my eyes are no more than 6″ from where the cut out should be….
After minutes, the only – and I mean only – thing that stands out in any way, is a black dash about this size ” –”
Taking it as the only clue I got, I investigate further..
Finally I see it!
The black “–” is a leg, The leg is attached to a moth. The moth has wings that so exactly match the bark, that it took about 3 complete minutes of looking straight at it before I could see it.
This is one extraordinary moth! It was about 2-3 inches long and 3/4″ wide. And it had decided to land exactly in the cut out square. The indention helped the illusion, and what an illusion it was.
I’ve read of creatures adapting well to their environments to avoid predators – but this was beyond basic bio. This was extraordinary. This was to the Nth degree.
Once I saw it, I studied it. The color was the same assortment of shades of gray. The pattern was the same as the oak, and had he tucked his black foot under his wing – well I would never have seen him even after looking straight at him for minutes!
Nature you are amazing – descriptions in books can’t match or even come close to what you can do! We have much to learn from you still!
This essay reprinted from Musea #195 The 8 Doors Issue: