March and April has been about reconnecting with family and friends, many of whom we’ve not seen for most of the time we’ve been working away. I see the flax as helping me reweave the stories.
And here on the leaves is evidence of stories, and families, of another kind. Of cycles of life and death and destruction. The patterns on the flax leaves stopped me in my tracks. Such clean and graphic ovals, creamy fibre centred with dark brown dead outlines, against the flaxgreen leaves made quite fascinating patterns. Deadly patterns.
Like Hinerehia, the flax looper caterpillar, Orthoclydon praefactata, or “windower” works at night, munching back the underside of the leaves and stripping the fibres bare, then curls up under some dry debris for a kip in the daylight. Leaving the plant useless for weaving and, if left unchecked, ultimately dead.
In the past Harakeke naturally grew beside water, along rivers and in wetlands. The windower can’t cope with water immersion and flooding ensured control of the pest population, which now flourishes given the environment where Harakeke is now grown.
Nature knows best.
Best we watch and learn.