Good Omens

While I was out west, most of my possessions, including my car, remained in Georgia. So when it came time to head to Wisconsin to begin my graduate assistantship, I had to first fly back to the Georgia coast and then road trip north. The first night (I stretched out the trip to a week, visiting old friends and former homes) I stayed in a Motel 6 in Charleston, West Virginia. When I checked in the man behind the counter handed me a form on which to fill in my address, and I hesitated. Should I put my address in Georgia, which I had just vacated? My address in Wisconsin, where I had never actually been yet? My parents’ address in Arizona, where I have never actually lived, only visited? It can get disconcerting to not have a permanent home.

The next morning I got up and carried my luggage down to my car in preparation for checking out. As I stepped into the parking lot something on the ground caught my eye. It was definitely not something I’d expect to find in a motel parking lot in a fairly urban place – a Saturniid moth the size of my hand, dead. Being the huge nerd that I am I scooped it up and carried it back to my room to take a photo. I was thankful to have the elevator to myself on the trip up, because I imagine I would have gotten some odd looks from strangers, a young woman in an elevator with an enormous dead insect in her hands.

Later I used my computer to identify it specifically as a Polyphemus moth, Antheraea polyphemus. Long-time readers may be familiar with my ongoing fascination with moths (click on the “moth” tag in the cloud in the sidebar for evidence), and encounters with the huge, colorful, seldom-seen Saturniids, the family that also includes such spectaculars as Lunas, Emperors and Prometheas, always seem fraught with magic and meaning. I’d never seen a Polyphemus before, and what were the chances of finding a creature with such personal significance to me in a Motel 6 parking lot on the edge of a fairly substantial city? The edge of the nearest Appalachian mountain was just on the other side of the freeway, but still. Most of the time I am a rational, objective-minded person, giving little credence to signs and portents and the idea of fate, and yet… it’s hard not to interpret something like this as a good omen.

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13 thoughts on “Good Omens”

  1. Good omens are always welcome. Have a great time in wisconsin. I live in Madison and the weather here has been very hot, humid although the corn nd soybean crops are looking good!

    1. I didn’t realize you were here in Wisconsin! Do you have a blog or site of your own I can follow? How did you happen to come across my blog, anyway? Your comments are always appreciated!

  2. That’s beautiful, its been awhile since I’ve seen one of the big moths. I guess you just never know where one is going to turn up! You sure have been seeing the country this summer – the photos of your travels are amazing.

  3. Great start to a trip! That was me 17 years ago leaving the east coast for Oregon. No address, all of my possessions were with me in the trailer, and no job (OK, at least you’ve got that part taken care of). Enjoy!

  4. I had the same issue of a permanent address when I was in grad school. Parents moved from Ohio to Wyoming the same year, while renting out the Ohio house. I had an apartment in Indiana, but the school and my PO box were in Ohio. I think I went with both Ohio addresses.

    I found a living Luna moth once circling a light outside a motel outside Atlanta (I think), but I get my omens from birds mostly. When you come home (to an aparment in a city in central Ohio) and find a bald eagle sitting in the yard tree it must mean something!

    1. Ha, I’m a fellow Ohioan originally and I went through something similar – I went to college about an hour away from home, but just before my junior year my parents sold the house I’d grown up in and moved across the country to Arizona, with me still in school in the Buckeye state. Hmph.

  5. I live in a very urban part of my N.Carolinians town, not so woody area. I found this huge and extraordinary looking butterfly like bug perched right at my door her wingspan was so long that it blocked me from opening my screen door, I would have to brush its wings in order to open the door and I didn’t want to fly away before I had a chance to get a pic of it so I got out my phone and got a few. When I try to open the door carefully it did not move. I went inside and then an hour so I came back to check to see if it was still there and it was our upon our I don’t open my door to check to see if it was still there and it was. I thought maybe it was dead or sick but it moved from being on the side of the building right at my door two on the ground right at my doorway so close to the entrance of my door that as I open my screen door I was brushing up against the wings I came in at about 4:30 p.m. from work and that mom stayed perched at my door till at least 10:30 at night I even took video footage of me coming back to the door opening the door and aiming the camera to the ground where it stayed the last time that I checked and it was gone was a quarter to 12 midnight. I thought it was a butterfly it was so beautiful and because normally butterflies are seen during the day and not moths. But butterflies normally don’t hang around for very long and surely not during the night after sundown. Someone told me about deceased loved ones who visit you in the form of butterflies and moths. I wonder if that is true

  6. I live in a very urban part of my N.Carolina town, not so woody area. I found this huge and extraordinary looking butterfly like bug perched right at my door, her wingspan was so long that it blocked me from entering the screen door, I would have to brush its wings in order to open the door, I didn’t want it to fly away before getting a chance to get a pic of it, so I got out my phone and got a few first. When I tried to open the door carefully it did not move. I went inside and then an hour or so later I came back to check to see if it was still there, hour upon hour I kept checking and it was still there. I thought maybe it was dead or sick but it moved from being on the side of the building along my door molding to right at my door step on the ground so close to the entrance that as I opened my screen door I was almost brushing against the wings. I came in that afternoon at about 4:30 p.m. that moth stayed at my door at least until 10:30 p.m. I even took video footage of me coming back to the door aiming the camera to the ground where it stayed. The last time that I checked and it was gone was a quarter to midnight. I thought it was a butterfly at first until I researched, it was so beautiful and because normally butterflies are seen during the day and not moths. But butterflies as well don’t normally hang around surely not during the night after sundown. Someone told me about deceased loved ones who visit you in the form of butterflies and moths. I wonder if that is true.

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  8. I had one of these perched on top of my front door today. Never have seen one before. It’s quite beautiful!
    It was very much alive and spread its wings to reveal the eyes at one point when my daughter tried to touch it.

  9. I don’t understand the meaning of these things honestly, but this thing was on my porch for 3 days, I am unable to post the picture on here, but it was super creepy because especially during the day one would think when I walk out of my door and it is just chilling right there it would attempt to leave???

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