My Favourite Things….

Dear Readers, over the years I’ve built up a collection of objects that remind me that insects and other invertebrates have been essential to my love of the natural world. When I was a little girl, our tiny back garden was a haven for all kinds of creeping and crawling things, and I was taking notice of their lives from as soon as I could walk. And so, I suppose it’s not surprising that if I’m going to wear clothing or a piece of jewellery, it’s likely to have an entomological theme.

Take the brooch above, for example. It’s made by Canadian designer Danny Pollak, and is a combination of vintage stones and new materials.  My Aunt Rosemary bought it for me in Creemore, Ontario, on a visit to Canada many years ago.  It was on this very same visit that I made the close acquaintance of a young turkey vulture, who was perching on the roof of someone’s car, oblivious to the stir that he was creating. And I also bought a vegan cookbook in the  local bookstore by a Canadian author, Angela Liddon – it has the most fabulous recipe for a sweet potato, peanut and red pepper soup. Highly recommended.

This brooch was made by Annie Sherburne, who uses salvaged stones to make one-off pieces. I fell in love with this beetle, and dropped enough hints to get it as a Christmas present from my lovely friend J. I think of her whenever I wear it, and there is something very special about owning something that brings together a warm feeling of friendship and the joy of a very quirky object.

J also bought me this scarf for my birthday a few years ago. It has images of pretty much all my favourite creatures – frogs and toads, bees and beetles, earthworms and ants. I’m just sorry I didn’t iron it before I took the photograph. I love that it looks like one of those elegant lady scarves, but turns out to be covered in creepy crawlies. Many a person has done a double-take when they’ve looked at it closely.

And this is the brooch that got me into trouble with my boss, who I was meeting ‘in real life’ for the first time in Dublin. We’d gone out for a team dinner, and it turned out that she was arachnophobic. I ended up popping the poor spider into my pocket for the duration.

And of course I could never resist a bee. I had a lovely holiday with my dear friend S, who was working in Washington D.C, so I got a chance to go to the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. A visit to the museum shop is obviously essential, and they had the best selection of insect jewellery that I’d ever seen in one place. Sadly most of the pieces aren’t online, and my friend works from London now.

Smithsonian bees!

I fell in love with this quirky chap when I saw him at a craft market in London. Sadly, the pink gemstones have been falling out all over the place – I used to wear him a lot when I was travelling for work in Europe, and I know for a fact that one stone is in Prague, one is in Helsinki and another one is most likely in Copenhagen. Never mind. Whenever I look at him, I’m reminded of the days when such lunatic levels of travel were not only condoned but expected, and I’m happy to be more settled, and less of a carbon liability.

And finally, how about this Bugwoman-themed cardigan? If I ever do personal appearances, I shall have to wear this.

It’s funny how I am so drawn to images of ‘bugs’, even after all these years. For me, they are still a source of fascination, and nothing cheers me up more quickly than the discovery of a new insect, or a new piece of information about their lives. I can quite see myself as an elderly lady in a care home with a secret pet spider in the corner of the room. This last few years have really made me consider what is important, and what isn’t, and I know that being connected to the natural world is so fundamental to me that without it, life wouldn’t be worth living. It’s always worth thinking about and stating these things while you still can.

10 thoughts on “My Favourite Things….

  1. Anne

    “I know that being connected to the natural world is so fundamental to me that without it, life wouldn’t be worth living” resonates with me too. Certainly when one looks at the way social norms are changing all over the world, nature retains a fascination that turns my focus to what has been going on since time began – regardless of the way people behave. I have enjoyed seeing your collection of ‘bug’ items – a wonderful expression of your interests.

    1. Bug Woman Post author

      Thanks Anne! I suspected that you were a fellow traveller where nature is concerned. When everything else is going wrong, there’s always a plant or a bird or an insect to change the perspective…

  2. ringg1

    It’s really interesting to get a peek into your bug world through jewellery and clothes. Thank you. The cardigan reminds me of visiting Zimbabwe with my daughter and two other father-daughter couples. (The girls were aged 12-14 years.) We were delayed in reaching our destination, a lodge in the bush. We didn’t mind, it had been a great day. However, our hosts had cleaned and aired the girls’ room. Our delay meant it was sundown before we arrived and the light was on and the window was open.
    The girls got a very big shock when they went to put their kit in the room – the walls and mosquito nets were full of bugs, big and small, attracted by the light. We spent about half an hour shifting the bugs out of the window and trying to calm down the girls. They didn’t even feel comfortable outside the room as there were a lot of hunter spiders scurrying up and down. In fact if I hadn’t needed to look nonchalant in front of my daughter about the situation it would have freaked me out a bit.
    I’m sure if you were there you would have provided a calming presence.

    1. Bug Woman Post author

      I remember being in Cameroon, under a mosquito net, reading my Kindle. There had been a tremendous rainstorm , and when I looked up, I realised that the outside of the net was absolutely covered in flying insects – their eyes were reflecting the light. What could I do? I turned off the kIndle, turned over and decided to go to sleep. Next day, they had completely disappeared….the insect life in the tropics is so varied and there is so much of it that it certainly comes as a shock. And well done you for staying calm under duress! It’s amazing what we can do when under pressure, and I’m sure your girls are much less afraid of insects as a result.

      1. Ringg1

        The work with my girls is ongoing. I spent a year in Cameroon, close to Mt Cameroon. I was helping establish a forest reserve. My focus was on the trees rather than the bugs, but I agree the diversity and quantity of life in Africa is amazing.

      2. Bug Woman Post author

        Ah amazing, Ringg1! I was not far from Yaounde, and the area was secondary forest – lots of cocoa trees. We had army ants which were something of a problem if they got in with the baby chimps, who were in a little house overnight – just before I arrived, some of the volunteers had spent hours picking the ants off the traumatised babies. However, the locals would direct the ants into their waste piles using petrol to funnel them where they were wanted – they would eat through everything, and leave the most amazing fine tilth.

  3. Alittlebitoutoffocus

    All of those pieces of jewellery are beautiful – and very in keeping with your obvious love of bugs of all kinds. Did anyone ever say “Did you know you have a spider crawling up your shoulder?” 😊


Leave a Reply to AlittlebitoutoffocusCancel reply