Sunday, 10 June 2012

A slightly dark butterfly tale

I've been struggling to post here for the last couple of weeks. Generally I'd say I've been lacking in the joy and sparkle department of late.

My mood was mirrored by our hatched-in-captivity butterflies. When I ordered those teeny weeny caterpillars I'd imagined us being a part of a joyful journey of growth and transformation...but the experience fell short of magical. It was pretty impressive how quickly those little critters grew but I was perturbed by their food solution. They were certainly not on a natural diet of wild greens, and their plastic pen didn't allow them much room as they grew. They got bigger and bigger and bigger again. The chrysalis forming stage was incredible - definitely awe-inspiring - but as the slower developing caterpillars came along trying to find a space to hang from, their jostling knocked down one of the already formed chrysalides. I was worried...We transferred the butterflies-in-waiting to the hatchery, pinning the hanging cocoons to the netted side and placing the loose one gently on the floor as advised. We eagerly awaited the moment of birth...


They emerged unseen. One by one we missed the births; we discovered the empty shells of the chrysalides first, then searched for the bedraggled new-borns clinging to the sides of their temporary home. The fallen chrysalis lay unopened. The freshly-hatched butterflies did not flutter like wishes on the wind, they flapped and fell clumsily onto their backs and then scrabbled desperately up onto the walls once more to tremble fearfully. They did not eat the fruit nor the sugar water we provided for them but seemed more and more subdued. We couldn't release them because of the ceaseless rain, so for days they sat silently with folded wings. They became an oppressive presence.


It was disturbing to have these creatures in our house. They didn't seem to know how to fly, they didn't seem to know how to eat, their wings didn't look right; I associate butterflies with weightlessness and freedom and the whole business was starting to get to me. I decided that at the first break in the rain we would release them. Oh, but the wrongness didn't stop there! Our stunted butterflies fell from our fingers and flopped into puddles the wrong way up; they jumped from the flowers and leaves we put them on into tangled undergrowth and became ensnared. It was not the release I had hoped for.


They are, however, now with nature come what may. Perhaps the whole butterfly rearing experiment would have been more wholesome had we been able to release them much sooner on the warm winds of more welcoming weather...

I'm not sure where all of this is going, except to say that perhaps that some of us need the sun much more than others...

2 comments:

Leigh De Oliveira said...

What an emotional journey you can go on from something that most of the time just flies right by a person!

I think that such expectations on events/relationships/just generally our whole lives and the grand underwhelming feeling thrown out when it doesn't quite go to our idealistic plan but rather 'reality' is the biggest challenge in life.

Your an excellent writer Selina! I'm loving your blog...

Selina Gough said...

It's a bit of a sad tale and I'm not sure I'd have written it that way if I'd been in a different place mood-wise! I think that's what's interesting, how our emotional state colours how we view the world. Thanks for reading Leigh! Lovely to know you're there xx