February 10, 2017
“Here’s how we count the people who are ready to do right: ‘One.’ ‘One.’ ‘One.'”
— William Stafford
“As long as there is one upright man, as long as there is one compassionate woman, the contagion may spread and the scene is not desolate. Hope is the one thing left to us in a bad time.”
— E. B. White, Letter to M. Nadeau, March 30, 1973
March 29, 2011
We saw our first Texas bluebonnets in a ditch from the windows of the car rental shuttle at the Houston airport, but we couldn’t stop for photos. That first sighting whetted my appetite, so the hunt was on. I next saw some at a nursery in Chappell Hill. Chappell Hill is on the “Bluebonnet Trail,” and I had read that one could sometimes find early blooms along the trail at Old Baylor Park in Independence, so we made a point to stop there. We were in luck.
After Independence, bluebonnets proved elusive until later in our trip when we drove south of San Antonio. Suddenly we saw bluebonnets growing in profusion in huge patches along I-37.
We saw plenty of other wildflowers along the roadsides of Texas.
August 7, 2010
After reading the following poem by Ted Kooser, I cannot see folded butterfly wings without thinking of praying hands:
by Ted Kooser
There is at least one pair
In every thrift shop in America,
Molded in plastic or plaster of paris
And glued to a plaque,
or printed in church pamphlet colors
and framed under glass.
Today I saw a pair made out of
lightweight wire stretched over a pattern
of finishing nails.
This is the way faith goes
from door to door,
cast out of one and welcomed at another.
A butterfly presses its wings like that
as it rests between flowers.
August 6, 2010
“Butterflies are self-propelled flowers.”
— R. H. Heinlein
“But these are flowers that fly and all but sing . . .”
from “Blue-Butterfly Day” by Robert Frost
While I was in Minnesota, my sister-in-law took me to the Como Park Zoo in St. Paul. They had a special exhibit of butterflies in a portable tent. I was captivated by their bright colors. It wasn’t until later, when I looked at some of my photos, that I noticed how ravaged some of their wings were. Such fragile and short-lived beauty.
“Happiness is a butterfly, which when pursued, is always just beyond your grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.”
— Nathaniel Hawthorne
August 30, 2009
The life cycle of the monarch butterfly is a metaphor for the changes we all experience as we go through life, growing into the individual we were meant to be. Last August when I was home in Minnesota, I witnessed the miraculous transformation of a monarch caterpillar into a chrysalis. I found this process perfectly described by Amy Seidl in her new book, Early Spring. Her words are quoted below:
“After a few days of eating, the larger caterpillars enter their fifth and final larval stage. They become sluggish and meander about the jars as if looking for something. And then one by one they climb up to the top of the stick and glue their end to it, anchoring themselves with a plug of white silk. In this way they become suspended upside down, their bodies curving slightly at the head so that each forms a letter j.”
“We pick up a jar and look closely at one of them. Its two jet-black antennae hang limp and quiver slightly even as the head and mouth move furiously in the air like a squirrel’s when eating a nut. The body is gyrating, coiling, pulsing with change; each segment blurs into the next as blood and air are pumped into the body to push at the old exo-skeleton. The caterpillar intends to throw its entire skin off, to disrobe its claustrophobic self and emerge entirely different. . . After a period of stillness, the caterpillar’s skin splits directly behind the two antennaes as if an invisible X-acto blade had bilaterally splayed the insect from above. An emerald green offering shines through; it is the pupa in the shape of a drupe, the head cloaked in developing wings.”
“The pupa thrusts and turns as if it were a spinning top, rotating its skin upward to the silk plug that holds it, winding and winding until its skin become a ball of debris and is shed like a crumpled dress at the base of a bed.”
“Dangling by a thread, the living trinket is resplendent. From the outside, little appears to be happening inside the jeweled case. In fact, the invisible changes are enormous. Wings are forming, each cell receiving color, each vein blackening. I imagine the proboscis (the insect’s hollow tongue) lengthening bit by bit and readying the butterfly-to-be for the sweet taste of nectar. New antennae are forming, each folding back accordion-style in the enclosed space and waiting to spring up.”