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Posts Tagged ‘butterflies’

The end of summer may be on the horizon, but there’s still some time left to cram some sparkle into the last week of August.  There are still opportunities to pick berries, squish sand between your toes and enjoy starlit nights outdoors.

As a child, golden rod flowers reminded me that my grasshopper and butterfly-catching days were coming to an end.  They still prompt me to make the most of the summer’s last days.

Yesterday my grandson and I picked blackberries in patches overlooking the ocean in the morning.  In the afternoon, we let the waves crash into us at the beach.  After nightfall, we explored a woodland path with flashlights.  It was both exhilarating and exhausting.  The best summer days are like that.

Some blackberries still haven’t ripened.

It could have been better.  I could have had the sense to not get my legs all scratched up by the blackberry brambles before I went into the stinging salt water.  That’s minor.  Scrapes, scratches and bug bites are all part of the outdoor summer experience.  But it could have also been worse.  Just before putting down my foot, I spotted a large, active wasps’ nest on the ground beneath an apple tree where we were attracted by some low hanging fruit.

Recently we tented in the yard, thrilled to witness the flight of bats from behind the screened door after sundown.   We didn’t see any bats last night, though we did get to see a shooting star.  The best summers are a series of moments such as these, strung together on a necklace that sparkles around our necks until the following June when we begin to gather gems for a new one.

A painted lady butterfly basks in the summer sunshine

Stalk butterflies, visit the beach or simply take in the wonders of the night sky, but do make the most of these last days of summer.  Cramming has never been so enjoyable.

Text and photographs copyright Amy-Lynn Bell 2012

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Some days just seem to crawl along don’t they?  So little progress is made towards our intended destination that it’s difficult to stay motivated and enthusiastic about the task set before us.  Take heart.  The caterpillars are here to shed some light on a situation that befalls us all at times.

The great thing in the world is not so much where we stand, as in what direction we are moving.
~  Oliver Wendell Holmes

Though we’re already well into the fall season, caterpillars can still be seen roaming the trails.  They seem more determined than usual as they motor along.  Yet compared to us humans, their speed is still painfully slow.  Don’t they get discouraged?  How do they keep their sense of direction intact while crossing such wide expanses? 

Don’t they ever second-guess their goals as they plod along, and wonder if it’s all worth the tremendous effort?

Sometimes thinking too much can destroy your momentum.
~  Tom Watson

No, I don’t think they dwell on the length of the journey or sink into spirals of despair at their slow progress.  They know deep inside that they’re called to a higher purpose.  Their butterfly heart tells them this with each small step they take.

sulphur butterfly

They trust that there will be time enough to fly at the speed of light later. For now, their focus is on the next step, however small it may be. 

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It’s always a bit sad when beloved houseguests leave.  Time flies as you enjoy one another’s company and then, before you know it, they’re gone, and their parting makes the house seem even emptier than it was before their arrival. 

A butterfly that stayed with us since it was discovered in late winter by my grandson was let outside today in the warm  spring sunshine.  Before it left, it unfurled its proboscis to offer a parting kiss.  Well, at least it seemed that way.

Butterflies don’t have mouths.  Instead they have a proboscis that they keep coiled until they find something edible.  Then they unfurl it and sink the end of their proboscis into nectar or whatever else they might consider worthwhile consuming.

Butterflies taste with their feet.  Perhaps this one thought there was something worth checking out further on my hand.

Moments later, the butterfly had taken flight and was on its way. Hopefully it will find a mate soon.  I’ll miss hearing it flutter in the terrarium on sunny days, but will look forward to seeing more of its kind outdoors in the summer months ahead.

All the precious time,
Like the wind the years go by.
Precious butterfly, spread your wings and fly.

~  Bob Carlisle,   Butterfly Kisses

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Although seeing a butterfly in springtime is always a joy, seeing one in winter is sure to set anyone’s heart aflutter. 

These fragile creatures, known for their marvelous ability to transform themselves from caterpillar to winged wonder, have often been employed as symbols of the soul, hope and renewal.

In late winter when there is still the threat of harsh weather, one doesn’t expect to find such a delicate creature in the woods. My grandson was turning a log over in the forest to examine a shelf fungus more closely when he caught sight of the butterfly. 

 Though its wings appeared frosted and stiff, we brought it indoors to have a closer look.  We were quickly able to identify it as a Mourning Cloak  (Nymphalis antiopa), a species that can convert glucose into antifreeze in order to survive the cold.  When its wings are closed, showing only the dark undersides, it’s also extremely well camouflaged in dark woods.

What is unsought will go undetected.
~ Sophocles

Too often, we only see what we expect to.  Adults usually don’t expect to see butterflies in winter.  But a five-year-old wouldn’t have such set expectations, so his eyes would not so easily dismiss the shape of delicate wings for dried leaves.  I wondered how many Mourning Cloaks I had missed seeing in the winter woods over the years.

Within minutes of being indoors, the butterfly was opening its wings.  Though it looked a bit ragged, it was still alive.     

The older we get, the better we learn how to manage expectations.  We don’t like to disappoint others and we especially don’t like to disappoint ourselves so we get into the habit of expecting less of everything around us.  Yet, surely there’s something to be lost in lowering expectations in order to avoid disappointment.  Besides butterflies in winter, what else might we be missing?

High expectations are the key to everything.
~  Sam Walton

Thank you to Joseph Belicek of Edmonton Alberta for identifying this butterfly’s subspecies as hyperborea.

Scott over at Views Infinitum is offering a macro photography challenge to all who are interested.  Deadline for submissions is March 23rd.  The close-up images shown above were made by using the macro mode on the Nikon Coolpix S8000.

 

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