Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Butterfly by Kathryn Magendie

Every year the butterflies come. The first time I saw them, I thought something was wrong, that somehow the butterflies were disoriented and ended up at the bottom of our gravel driveway. But then, the next year they were back, and the next, and next. From what I can tell, these could be Pipevine Swallowtails, a butterfly that frequents these mountains. Whatever kind they are is not important to me, the butterflies themselves are. Every late spring or early summer they rest at the bottom of my driveway. At times there are twenty or more of them, landing and then lying there, fluttering their wings. When I walk our dogs, they flit away, hovering near, and wait until we leave before they land once again in their designated spots. Some are already dead, wings spread. Whenever I have to drive out, I go slowly, giving them time to disperse, and they do, in a slow lazy dance, as if they really do not, most certainly do not, have time for this human’s antics.

I wonder why they are here. Is it a mating place? A meeting place? A dying place? I can’t help but imagine the butterflies has been coming to this one spot for hundreds, thousands?, of years, and the development has not stopped them. I am glad we have kept our spot as wild as possible. We haven’t landscaped, preferring not to have a "yard." Our property has plants and flowers that are unique, rare even, and we are careful to honor the ancient quality of this place. The first late spring here, when the butterflies came, I picked up a dead specimen. He was perfect, his body still, but the colors, the beauty of him made him still seem alive, as if I only had to touch him and he would lift his wings, flutter them, and then fly away from me. I carefully placed him in the palm of my hand, studied the color and craft of him. Then, I took him inside and placed him among my rocks, feathers, bark, bones, shells, and other mountain things I find. He stayed for a while, then as time passed, he could no longer sustain such beauty and began to fall apart. I took him then, because I understood I’d done something I should not, and I returned him to his place on the mountain. The wind picked him up and carried him away away away. I watched. I wondered. I said, “Thank you for allowing me to have you, just for a little while.” The butterflies come, every year, and I wait for them, gratitude for their beauty and constancy filling me. My Mountain is not really mine, yet it is.


Angie Ledbetter said...

I love the beauty of butterflies and birds. Such nice little pieces of living art.

Barbara Quinn said...

It's good to feel connected to the rhythm of life, to understand the cycle and see how we are just one part of it. Life has its own agenda that we cannot alter. Lovely to watch the butterflies, flutter by while we can.

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