Wednesday, 21 October 2009


You will rarely - if ever - find me posting in German, but this time, I was looking for a good title to my entry and couldn't come up with anything fitting better and sounding more beautiful in this context than Vergänglichkeit.
It literally means "passing-ness", and dictionaries offer a variety of translations for this term, ranging from momentariness (too technical) to transience (ok, that does sound rather elegant) to caducity (never heard that one before!) or fugaciousness (pompous, somehow).

And so, Vergänglichkeit it is.

On Monday, I was on my way to work as usual, passing the tidy front gardens of the neat row of houses that accompany the road from the train station to the small industrial estate where my work place is located.

These front gardens with their variety of flowers, shrubs and seasonal decoration (that alone is enough material for another blog entry; you wouldn't believe the amount of... erm... decorative items people put on their front doors, door steps and lawns!) often provide me with material for my musings, some of which eventually make it to the virtual pages of this my mental library, and this week's Monday was no exception.

In one particularly well-kept garden, several rose bushes stand close to the fence.

To me as a non-gardener, the sheer fact that there are still roses in bloom at this time of the year is amazing enough, but what I found even more amazing was the butterfly that was seemingly using those very roses as a resting spot.

It had been bitterly cold during the night, below zero, and the day was sunny with a sapphire blue and completely cloudless sky. By lunch time, when I was on my way to work, temperatures were no higher than maybe 2 or 3 degrees Celsius.

And so I wondered, where did the butterfly spend the night? How come it was still alive, and for how much longer was it going to be alive?

I know that butterflies do hardly count among the most persistent members of the animal kingdom, but some of them must survive somehow during winter, or we wouldn't see any in the next spring and summer.

So, how do they do it?

Was this one going to be one of the survivors or would it take only one more frosty night to end its brief existence?

The whole setting - the last roses, dead but very colourful leaves on the pavement, the butterfly in the rays of the bright but cold autumn sun; it all made me feel a bit melancholy and think of the Vergänglichkeit of things and, ultimately, of myself.

Maybe I was just tired after a very busy week with no weekend to speak of.


  1. Nice, descriptive post. I think I would feel as you did - kind of melancholy at the passing-ness of it all. I love fall, but it does signal a 'death' of sorts. No more leaves or flowers or butterflies, and very few birds. We have a long winter where I live so the coming of spring makes everyone quite cheerful.

  2. Thank you for your comment! To my liking, winter is too long here - sometimes we get lovely warm days already at the end of February, and then it gets really cold and nasty again, dragging on until far into April.

    Been to my mum's today; my dad has given her the last roses from their garden - and tomorrow is the first of November!