I remember a year when painted lady butterflies migrated through our area. Colorful fluttery tidbits tossed about by the sea coast’s strong winds, incongruous against the blacktop and the glittery edges of cars. I sat in the back of my truck in a parking lot, ate my sandwich, and watched the sky flood with a kaleidoscope…
I’ve been on vacation. Somewhere where palm fronds cut through salt-thick silver air like pirate’s blades, where backyard BBQs and long discussions about the proper method of growing endless varieties of tomatoes are yet a weekly occurrence. Dense gray cloud obscures everything most mornings, making memories seem even more dreamlike, wrapped as they are in a misty blanket that only gradually wears itself out to tattered shreds. Some days it never would fall back, and the sunline would taunt us vitamin D starved residents of the river valley and coastal range, a wavery line of gold always just out of reach on the next brown hill. The Fog, for such an entity is surely deserving of proper noun capitalization, keeps everything from spontaneously igniting in the summer heat, yet even with that there’s not much moisture. Not very many flowering plants left for a butterfly to pause at in that land where the dirt cracks in massive plates, rules for watering gardens and washing cars outnumber the inches of rainfall, and McDonald’s grimly hands out teeny waxed paper shot glasses of water when asked.
Yet there was still one. Amazing, isn’t it?
Love can be expressed so many different ways. I love flowers. Plants of most types, really. Even the poison oak near my childhood home turned all different sorts of gorgeous colors, tantalizing the unwary with vibrant golds and vivid reds, reflecting the light off still-glimmering oily leaves. My parents spent a few precious days with me, and a couple minutes of that was spent arguing about what plant to buy me — a whimsical blue orchid (“She loves blue!”) or a goofy purple waffle plant (“It will remind her of Waffle Wednesdays!”). They decided to get me both. 🙂
Right now I’m living in a country that seems to be slowly separating by different beliefs and a lack of love for different shapes and colors. If you pick up a paper, it’s a depressing chronic illness all of its own, all across the world. I find myself rather wishing that people were as lovable as plants, and I could fix the disease with a touch of fertilizer. But it seems instead of loving the different shapes and colors many are going for the weed killer… the definition of the weed seems to be “unwanted.” And there’s always the poison oak to consider. Yet as Oscar Wilde wrote, “It takes great courage to see the world in all its tainted glory, and still to love it.” I hope titanium butterflies everywhere can show that type of strength. Meanwhile, I’m going to water my waffle plant and stake my orchid, contemplate the ways we can show and accept love, and pray.
A Native American tribe, the Blackfeet, would put butterflies on their children’s things to aid in sleep, believing that dreams are brought in sleep by butterflies.
I’ve skipped classes and meetings because of pain/ fatigue/ illness. And for a graduate student, you don’t even *think* that. In the case of once-a-week seminars, skipping is the academic equivalent of jumping into Niagara Falls. Without the barrel. You just don’t do it.