nature

Curioser Still . . . Where Do The Butterflies Go When It Rains?

Rain.

Floridian backlash from the hurricane sent plenty of it this way. Pattering on and off for days. Competing with our conversations and sometimes, believe it or not, our sleep.

Moths clung to the eaves and fluttered like wet leaves against the windows, looking for shelter.

But my most unusual find was a butterfly at nite, flapping weakly at the base of my front door, bedraggled in a spider web, its one antennae twisted, sticky and fused to a front leg until it became one, sending it wheeling in helpless, directionless, flightless circles.

i’ve seen this dark butterfly in the day – first time this season and one i haven’t been able to identify yet. Smoky, scalloped wings with irridescent green-blue powder. When the wings are closed they present bright orange dots.

i took it into the house and it was so tired it sat in my palm as i took a small pair of razor sharp tweezers and separated the leg from the antennae. it sat quite still, opening and closing its wings slowly like a breath, a slow pulse, a heartbeat. Then it waggled its antennae together, angling out as if communicating or tuning in and discovered it could fly.

. . . in my house.

the cats watched it beat towards the bright torchiere lamp in the living room and i quietly dicsouraged their chase. i caught it and went out side where it sat still in my hand for a few minutes and took flight again, resting against a high window until morning. As soon as the sun warmed things – it was off again to meet the day.

i always wondered where such delicate things could hide while the rain and wind tore through the flowers and trees. They hide under things – leaves and awnings with their wings clapped up tightly, waiting it out. Sometimes they are tattered to bits of confetti like all those tiny dances of death i see in the road beating furiously across stretches of two-lane country roads only to be tossed into the updrafts of passing trucks and cars, creased into radiator grills, dashed against hot pavement. You wouldn’t believe how many of them i see. How easily i pick them out from fallen leaves, newspaper, fast food bags, litter.

How many scraps of wings i find and save . . .

Today Zoey and i were driving to take in some lunch and photos in Annapolis. We stopped the car 20 yards out of the driveway and rescued an Eastern Painted turtle crawling directly in the path of the road. i held it gently by the midsection of its shell and began carrying it to a safe field. It quickly struggled and kicked against me as if to swim away, scratching the palms of my hands with meaty claws – cool and strong. But we saved it from the possible cars or the wash of storm quickly approaching.

Funny how the creatures most flitting, fast and delicate and even those lumbering, slow and sturdy in seemingly impenetrable shells – each are fragile in their own way.

There is always something larger than yourself, different and differently abled.

And we all need a safe place to rest out of the storm . . .

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