Yellow summer

Sue Vincent reminded me today of the words of the immortal Tove Jansson “If the first butterfly you see is yellow, the summer will be a happy one.”

The first butterfly of this year was a Brimstone.



For the dverse quadrille.


Yellow butterfly

citron on green

spring sprinkles golden grass seeds,

nectar-sipping from precocious blooms.

After winter torpor

wishing for change turns to fear

that the scales have tipped,

the year dripping like spilt honey,


on rapid wings

elusive as a citron yellow


Published by

Jane Dougherty

I used to do lots of things I didn't much enjoy. Now I am officially a writer. It's what I always wanted to be.

64 thoughts on “Yellow summer”

  1. Oh I was waiting for that sip of nature! Thanks for going there. Love the internal rhyme and this phrase….”the year dripping like spilt honey”.

  2. Tove Jansson is a particular favourite of mine, Jane, not just for the Moomins but also for her wonderful books for adults. Did you see the programme about her a few years ago? Yellow is the colour of summer and I agree that your Brimstone is a good omen! I love the thought of spring sprinkling golden grass seeds, precocious blooms and ‘the year dripping like spilt honey’. I’ll be keeping a look-out for a citron yellow butterfly.

    1. I didn’t see the programme Kim (no TV) but I did hear years ago a Radio 4 dramatisation of an autobiographical novel. She was a very interesting, very melancholy sort of woman as I remember. I looked up the ‘Citron’ butterfly and in English it’s the Brimstone. There are a lot of birds and plants here that I never came across when I lived in England and only know the names in French.

  3. I do remember this from many sources, Tove Jansson is one of them … I’m pretty sure it was from Moomin and the Magic Hat… but I can be wrong.

    I remember looking for the first butterfly and hoping that it wouldn’t be black (fortunately a rare one)

      1. I wish I could read it in the original. The English translation is very quirky and sounds right, old-fashioned expressions that are completely out of time, but I’d like to know if Tove Jansson wrote in a deliberately out-dated style.

      2. Oh, yes, that was a good story. The later ones were very introspective. I’m not sure how much children got out of them, but as an adult the lighthouse story and the midwinter story have given me a lot to think about.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s