Sunday, 10 November 2013

Ladybird, Ladybird Fly Away Home

As part of a memorial weekend here in the UK, centred around Remembrance Sunday I had occasion to accompany a friend today to the cemetery where her family are buried. 

Chanterlands Avenue Cemetery in Hull also known as the Western Cemetery opened in 1889 and was privately run by the Hull General Cemetery Company until 1972 when it closed for burials and the council took over its maintenance. I understand burials still take place there but only in family graves where plots have been previously paid for.

The cemerary has one 'famous' burial there and being Remembrance Weekend it is very apt, John Cunningham who died in 1941 was a British Victoria Cross War Medal Recipient. He served as a Private in the 12th Battalion of The East Yorkshire Regiment. He was awarded his Medal for service at Hebuterne, Somme, France, on November 13, 1916.

The place is large, sprawling and quiet with huge trees and a little wildlife such as squirrels. It's maintenance can be best described as a little shabby, but acceptable as far as it goes for a Victorian cemetery. There is too much subsidence of graves and memorial stones and the pathways are unclear, being covered in leaf. But at least it's locked on a night and surrounded by a substantial fencing.

Imagine my surprise when getting back into the car to see this collection of ladybirds and their larva situated on the corner of a sandstone grave memorial.  Ladybirds are the family Coccinellidae - of small beetles. In the US, you like to call them ladybugs I understand.

Ladybirds and their larva on a Hull gravestone 10 November 2013, about 1.15 pm
Although today was bitterly cold, just 6 degrees Celsius at midday, the sun was bright and the sky clear, out of the breeze, it was quite warm. These ladybirds were sunning themselves.

As part of a series of popular songs about ladybirds, this traditional rhyme (and there are many variations) was penned in English in 1744, and to be honest, I never understood it as a kid, it seemed a little macabre to say the least:

Ladybird, ladybird fly away home,
Your house is on fire and your children are gone,
All except one,
And her name is Ann,
And she hid under the baking pan.

Well the explanations seems to go something like this: It's very unlucky to kill a ladybird. So, in order not to make a mistake and accidentally kill one, you were supposed to sing this verse to it and it would fly away home, presumably to look for survivors and check the insurance policy! But it would fly away, safe to continue its life for another day.

Another variation is if a ladybird lands on you, you sing the verse and when it flies away, you make a wish and it will come true, a reward for saving its life.

I hope if you are in the northern hemisphere, you are protecting yourself against the cold, winter is on its way.

Chat soon

Ta-ra

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