In the spring I plant morning glories. Heavenly blue is the name on the seed packet, and they certainly are all of that! I hope they will begin to flower in the summer. But, it is autumn when they reach their most beautiful.

Some years I get the seeds tucked away in the dirt nice and early. They have taken over whole fences at times! When I am not careful enough in my placement, they have taken over other plants with their exuberant tendrils. Not so good.

Some years, I am late and so are the flowers. This year was somewhere in between early and late. I planted the seeds and I waited. The vines curled upward. The delicate heart shaped leaves multiplied. I had hope.

I waited for the first sign of a flower in June. Nothing and nothing and nothing….

The days sort of melted and meandered. I lost track of their comings and goings.

Until I found myself in a gentle clear morning in October. However did it come to be October?! And Now December?! 31st no less?! I think Dobby and Jack must have done something to the calendar. Yes, that must be it.

Lately, a young buck in velvet is spending his dawn hours at the western edge of an eastern wood. Our silent paths cross often.

A doe and her fawn step gingerly to the lake as the cranes search for their breakfast.

Crossing and more crossing of paths.

And, the feathers! I have lost count of them. There has never been a feather season with so many gifts, of all shapes and sizes. A feather is a lot like a leaf. The one is as unique to the bird as the other is to the tree… as a wing is to a butterfly..

This year some of the wings have come as grounded things.

Once upon a time in early June…

…the caterpillars arrived by mail.

For a week they ate their weight in food and then some. They ate and ate….and ate. They grew and grew….and grew. They were very much like Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Clearly, he did his research!

One day the caterpillars climbed to the tippy top of their tiny home and each one made their very plump form into a jolly letter J. Within hours, the J that they were, had disappeared. Now, they were each closed up tight in a chrysalis of their own creation.

It didn’t look like much, this simple chrysalis. For a week there was nothing much to see or to do. Waiting. Lots of waiting. For me and for them, although I suspect they were doing far more important things with their solitary time than I was.

Then, one by one the chrysalides turned darker. It is when they have reached their most colorless moment that they unfold into the light….

…behold a butterfly…

Oh, what a miracle to see a butterfly unfold! Their wings are soft and crumpled at first, like a blanket fresh from the wash. Right away they instinctively climb upwards to a safe place. Then they wait some more. Their wings slowly straighten, dry out and become strong. It takes from a few minutes to a few hours as they ready themselves to be what they already are within.

They begin to play in a gentle flapping way that is not quite a flutter. That will come in due time.

Over the next three to four days the painted ladies were taken outdoors to be set free among the flowers. Hot days sent a few of them soaring into the sunshine. Some settled in the shade. Most of them flew away…

One remained….

The first time I tried to let her go, she fell from the flower and struggled to right herself. I reached gently all the way down to the pine straw. She grabbed hold of my finger and let me lift her up. She spread her wings and crawled up my arm to see what she could see from my shoulder. But, she did not fly away. She was definitely not ready to go yet.

After a few more tries on the days that followed, I realized that for whatever reason, she was unable to fly. She could flutter like crazy. And, she loved to curl her proboscis to eat and explore. But, there would be no flying for her.

So, I set out to make her as comfortable as I could. I gathered fresh flowers and leaves for her each morning and spritzed them lightly with water. I made her home at the heart of where I spend a great deal of time, the kitchen. How quickly we learned each other’s ways. I knew all of her favorites as she became a sweet part of June floating into July and on into August…

Gilda means messenger. That was her name. I also called her Miss Butterfly or even Miss B. She liked to be held, especially in the afternoons. She adored fresh watermelon to eat, and would “nod” her antennas at me in a cheerful hello of sorts. Seriously. She did.

She could flutter like the dickens although her wings couldn’t take her skyward. I would often reach in and place my finger nearby. Sometimes she would flutter with excitement. Sometimes she would pay me a never you mind and simply drift back to sleep.

Mostly, she would climb onto my waiting hand as though she simply wanted to be held for a while. So, I would. There we would sit, Miss B and me, quiet and still, with her at rest in my hand. She slowed me down in the most lovely of ways.

I offered her as many fruits as I could think of! Her absolute favorite was watermelon. And, so that’s what she and I settled on. Oh, how she loved watermelon! There was a brief stint with bananas. But, after she scared me something awful and got stuck in them….no more bananas.

Did you know that butterflies taste with their feet. I think that’s how she came to know me. She knew the taste of my skin. Perhaps she learned that she could trust me. Maybe.

At 9 weeks old, she moved more slowly each day. I wished that she could have flown but her gentle life was so full of light. She graced my days for three full months! That is a long life for a Painted Lady and I’m grateful for every moment of it that she shared with me.

I still miss her. Cutting her watermelon. Letting it come to room temperature. It startled her if it was too cold. Picking her up and placing her gently on the edges so she could taste that it was there. The simple joy of seeing her eat. The way her antenna would bob. And holding her for a time, just because…

Occasionally she tickled me with her tiny feet. Mostly my skin couldn’t feel her in my hand. My heart always felt her though. Love is like that I think.

So the hot dry summer days kept on.

With them I watched for the morning glories to form and blossom. Nothing. I had all but given up hope for them this season. I had resigned myself to the notion that the green heart shaped leaves would have to be enough this year. There would be other seasons, I told myself.

I thought forward to next spring, planning ahead and determined to get the seeds in the ground nice and early…

Then, in early October as I set out on a morning walk under misty skies, there she was…Heavenly Blue…her light shining from within as soulfully as Miss Butterfly.

I have written on this over and again. Now, here we are on the very last day of the year. It’s time…

This story took months to live and much wandering beneath trees to write. I don’t know why the morning glories didn’t bloom more this year. I don’t know why Miss Butterfly couldn’t fly and spent her life with me instead. I don’t know a lot of things about this year that is nearly over. I only know this – One can make all the difference…

A flower full of light….a butterfly full of hope….Love is like that I think…

May you be safe and well and may you have light and hope.

Suzanne 🦋

****

ellie894 December 31, 2020

78 thoughts on “Light and Hope…

  1. This was an incredible read!!!!! Raising butterflies is something the kids did (or happened when a swallowtail chrysalis was found in the yard and rescued) and is now something that should be looked forward to this next spring. Love painted ladies! Such cheery friendly creatures. Do NOT like morning glory. The tiny white variety is here and they are all over my gardens and make me cry cuz they are so hard to remove!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Raising butterflies is amazing isn’t it?! I will definitely try it again. I doubt that one will stay but it’s wonderful to watch and wait for their magic. I wish that she could have flown as she was supposed to but she taught me so much. I confess that I do know what you mean about morning glories. Once they take hold, goodness me they’re hard to keep up with. They reseed themselves without any help from you. My favorite are the heavenly blues but the reseeding always comes back differently and goes everywhere! Happy New Year, Kris! Hoping the morning glories do Not take over your spring garden this year 😄🦋🌿🤗

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I Do remember your cautionary tale! And I’ve had some of my own as well. There’s one young tree I’m trying so hard to protect! Inside double panel windows, oof! Here I also have what’s commonly called potato vines. They’re native and no matter how hard I try there they are. Huge rhizomes underground, thick stalk, thorns and not even a flower in sight. They are a constant! I keep trying 🙃

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    1. It was an amazing thing. She slowed me down in the nicest of ways. Painted ladies often live only 2-3 weeks. I couldn’t believe how long she stayed with me as well. Out of the blue, that’s just the right way to describe it all. Thank you, Neil. Happy New Year! 😊🦋

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  2. I just finished walking over my ribeye steak and it was delicious. I kid, I kid but I never knew that butterflies tasted with their feet. Thanks for that tidbit, Suze, I’ll get a few free drinks with that knowledge. Aside from tramping over my meals, I was cheered by your lovely tale which added to the hope that I, and probably most folk, feel as a new year enters. I hope your 2021 is wonderful, full of warmth and happiness, with an army of caterpillars (that’s what a group of caterpillars is actually called), great bunches of flowers, and perhaps the occasional SPAM musubi.

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    1. 😄 happy to hear that butterfly habits lead to a tasty tidbit for your toes! Enjoy those extra libations! Thank you for the wonderful wishes including the small army of potential transformers. If they all become butterflies that decide to stick around I might have to look into watermelon farming to feed them all. 😊🦋 SPAM musubi sounds yummy just now, thanks for the great idea. I hope your 2021 is full of joy and happiness. I look forward to Max’s all new adventures! ☺️

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  3. Love is like that, Suzanne ❤️ It truly is. The first day of this new year is slowly turning to an end where I live. I’m so delighted and grateful for your lovely story. Thank you, wholeheartedly. Miss Butterfly will be dearly missed 🦋❤️

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you dearly, Isabelle ❤️ I hope the first day of this new year was kind to you and that there are many more beautiful moments ahead, far too many to count. Thank you ❤️🦋🌷

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  4. A butterfly full of hope… 🦋 I can’t think of a better metaphor to begin 2021… Such a beautiful story and bond between you two… I feel now for certain that there is much to hope for. Happy New Year, Suzanne… 😊😊

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  5. Well Lord…..sweet, dear, beautiful Suzanne!!! Thank You more than I can say for this. You just gifted my heart and soul soooo much Love and sweetness. I LOVE the journey of You and Gilda. Wow. This entire post….calmed me and stopped me and slowed me down….just as Gilda did You. What a gift. A most wonderous gift!!! I can’t stop smiling and my heart will likely stay swelled up all day! You are such an Angel Woman. 🤗💖🙏🏼 We love the garden, flowers and butterflies much as well. Sigh. And You’ve inspired me to perhaps plant morning glories again this spring. Lord knows I’ve planted them a few years in a row and absolutely nothing happened. The one year I thought they’d come up, a skink found their tender greens to be delicious and made them his personal buffet….so they never got a chance! 🤣 But now…..I’m gonna do it! Perhaps old hungry one has moved on! 😅 Sending You the hugest hugs, so much gratitude and TONS of LOVE!!! 🤗💖💐🦋😇💕😊!

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    1. Dear Katy, you know you have given me the biggest smile! You always do with your sweet thoughts. Gilda was such an amazing little surprise. At first I was terrified that I was going to accidentally hurt her. But we got used to each other I guess. 😂. You should definitely try morning glories again. I’m going to try to get them in early this year… I always say that and I’m always late 😂. I had some that were so brilliant one year that I’ve never given up on them. They grew straight up and then went up and down the fence line. All late summer it was the prettiest blue. That was years ago but gosh it was lovely! So… I keep trying. 🙃. I really have too much shade now but I love the trees!! So there I am. 😂. There were 11 caterpillars. They all became butterflies and only Gilda stayed. The rest flew away but I would catch sight of them now and then around the yard. I’m so so happy you enjoyed it Katy. Thank you dearly for always visiting and just being You! Huge hugs and much love to you!!! ✨🦋✨🦋💞🤗❤️🦄🎶🌱🦋🌷💫❤️🤗❤️!!!

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      1. My absolute, complete and total pleasure, beautiful Suzanne!!! You and sweet Gilda are officially one of my favorite stories ever! And You reminded me to put out watermelon slices for the butterflies this summer! We have lots of flowers which keep them busy and happy but I’ve always meant to do that!!! Thank You! And..OK! Morning glories it is!!! How many packets of seeds do You plant? I think I did 3 the couple of times I tried….Maybe 5 this time? Wouldn’t it be crazy fun if we BOTH had glorious bounties of blue this year?!! They truly are mindblowingly beautiful. One of my favorites…those and wisteria. The island here used to be covered with wisteria. My Lord. Entire streets would be purple with their fallen blossoms. But people kill them now and there are hardly any….they say they kill other trees…but oh….they are amazing. Cheers, oceans of Love and HUGEST hugs ever, Oh Morning Glory Buddy!!! Thanks for the inspiration! 😃✨🦋✨🦋🍪💞🤗❤️🦄🎶🌱🦋🌷💫❤️🤗💕❤️!!!

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      2. Good morning Sweet Katy!! There is a wild persimmon tree that hides in my yard. I forget it’s there. One year the fruit fell in the driveway, lots of it and it was crushed and “fruitful” 😂. Well, imagine my surprise when day after day for a few of them, butterflies showed up in droves. Tons of them to enjoy the wild crushed persimmons! It was absolutely magical although I confess it was hard to get out of the driveway for a couple days 😂. But, Yes you should absolutely try putting out fruit for them! I usually plant about 3 packets of morning glories too. They all pop up and I get so excited thinking how pretty they’re going to be! 🥰Then I wait 🙃. Waiting is soooo hard! It would be amazing cool if we BOTH had a garden full of heavenly blues!! Oh, I also have to think about it early because once the seeds sell out for the spring I can’t find them. Some years that has happened to me. I wait too long on the seeds 🙃. Katy!! Wisteria… I adore wisteria. Lavender especially. In the spring I drive certain roads just to see it! I know it’s really hard to manage but… the way it reaches up to the sky and blooms so delicately. I will go out of my way to see it every time. It absolutely enchants me!! I’ll watch for it especially for you this year too! There’s one spot I even like to park and go stand in the midst of the flowers hanging down low. 💞 Thank you!!! Have a beautiful day Morning Glory Buddy!!!! 🌿🦋🌷🎶🦄🥰🍭🍪🌀☀️🌺🌸🌼🌷🍄❤️🤗❤️ Huge Hugs and much love ❤️

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      3. WAIT?!!! WHAT?!!! Oh my gosh! I LOVE that You have a place You can drive to and stand under wisteria!!! It’s seriously been taken off the island here and where there were streets lined with it there are NONE now! Back in the woods behind our house there are a couple of wisterias way up high in the trees. We can see it far off from our bedroom window. So that’s cool…but I LOVE that You can just go stand under it. That’s heaven!!! And Thank You for reminding me to grab my seeds before they go! I’ll go today. Gonna try 5 packs just because I love that number and on someone’s blog I saw it’s the numerology for this year! 😃 Morning Glory Buddies….GO!!! Yay!!! And WOW! Love that You had a butterfly all You can eat buffet in Your driveway! That SOOOO rocks! What a happy accident! Cheers to our morning glories, to all the beautiful flowers and all sweet fluttery winged beings and to Your wonderful friendship!!! Thank You for starting my day off so joyfully, beautiful Suzanne!!! Huge hugs and so much Love right back!!!🌿🦋🌷🎶🦄🥰🍭🍪🌀☀️🌺🌸🌼🌷🍄❤️🤗❤️ 🦆🦆🦆!

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      4. Back in the time when wisteria lined the streets, it must have been a magnificent sight in the springtime! I can so imagine it 💐🎉❤️. I’m happy that you can still see some at least from your bedroom window. That sounds magical! 5 it is then! Aren’t numbers wonderful too! I’m always counting things and thinking of the numbers, petals on a flower, sands on the shore, trees in the forest, R’s in forresting 😄. Now you have me thinking of 5… ✨🎶🌷🦋🦆 so many good good things in this world. Thank you Katy for your delightful morning cheer! Have a gorgeous day! Hugs and love!!!! 🦄🕊🎶✨☀️🦋🧁☀️🐢🐝. ❤️🤗❤️

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      5. That’s too funny! I’m always counting things too! 🤣 It’s just fun. 😅 Happy to know I’m in such good company!!! 😃 And, YES!!! Beautiful Suzanne; there ARE sooo many good good things in this world. Smiling so big! Thank You for Your delightful morning cheer as well!!! Delicious coffee. Fairy lights all around. Sweet kitty at my feet. Woods outside our windows all dark and quietly waiting for the sun to show up…and Your lovely presence! Yay!!! I hope You have a gorgeous day as well! Buying my seed packets TODAY!!! May our vines flourish and yield seriously happy Morning Glories!!! Hugs and Love right back!!! 🦆🎉🦄🕊🎶✨☀️🦋🧁☀️🐢🐝. ❤️🤗❤️🍪🌿

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      6. I love early morning too! Coffee ☕️. My kitty is tucked away and it’s 4 big pups at my feet. Sometimes quiet. Sometimes not so much 🤣. Kitty is smart to tuck away from such bountiful doggy paws 🐾. I am pondering fairy lights myself, began doing so just yesterday. … 🧐. I second that! May our vines flourish and grow happy morning glories from when to when and every then in between! Hugs and Love!!!! 🕊🦋🧚‍♀️🦆🐝☕️🍪🐾🐾🐾🐾❤️🤗❤️🎶

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      7. Smiling! 4 big pups at Your feet?!!! Now THAT’s cozy!!! And….smart kitty indeed!!! 🤣 Hugs and love right back at You! And I forgot to get my seeds yesterday!!! Ack! TODAY!!! And I second Your “from when to when and every then in between!”! Here here!!! 🤗💖🦆☕️🌻🌟💝🫐🍪🧩🎵🎶😸🤗💕

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      8. OMG!!! I FORGOT to go get seeds!!! 🤣🤣🤣 Today! Today! TODAY!!!! And I see Your quack and raise it a three moos! Sweet week right back to You, Lovely!!! 🫐🦆🐘🍄⛄️🍋🥂💕🤗!

        Liked by 1 person

      9. I BOUGHT THEM!!! Yay! 4 packs blue and one pack scarlette! Yippeee! Soooo excited! Five whinnies and 2 meows coming back at You!!! And a big fat huge hug!!! Thanks so much for the inspiration. Power Glories (that’s our moniker now!) GO!!! 🤣😃💖💖💖☀️💖💖💖🌻😊!

        Liked by 1 person

      1. I would be very honored, Mitch. Thank you kindly! My WordPress site is named Ellie after my sweet 12 year old Labrador mix. She is another gift that I never imagined for myself. When I started writing it never occurred to me that people would think I was Ellie but of course they do ☺️and that’s all good. I live here in East Texas where I have family plus four busy pups and one tortoise shell cat who keep me on my toes and my days full of adventures. ☺️🌿🦋

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  6. Reblogged this on Mitch Teemley and commented:
    My Featured Blogger this week is Suzanne of Light and Hope. Suzanne is a lover of all created beings (her blog’s web address is titled after her beloved Labrador Retriever). She lives in East Texas with her family, which includes “four busy pups and one tortoise shell cat.” I’ve followed her for some years, and always enjoy her lyrical prose. But I think this post about her unexpected relationship with one of God’s most fleeting and beautiful creations, particularly illustrations her theme of Light and Hope.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You were one of the very first to take a chance on my blog and my writing. I’m still very grateful for that. And now this, such a kind surprise that I never could have imagined. Thank you, Mitch. Take good care 🦋🌷

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  7. Dearest Suzanne,
    What a blessing this was to read. I cried all the way through. There are words which speak to our hearts, they are the audible ones, and the ones we read … we can hear them with our minds when we cross them with our eyes on the page. And then there are those words, which are not really words. They are the silence and the absence of something. The longing. They whisper in the waiting. They are in the morning glory which are not, or the inability to take flight … they rest in the middle of winter … a promise of yet another season. You touched my soul. You spoke to me through the words you wrote and the ones you didn’t. THANK YOU.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Dearest Heidi,
      You have brought tears to my eyes with your gentle and reassuring thoughts. You took such time to visit and share with me. So still and careful in your listening to Miss Butterfly. “They whisper in the waiting” – yes..it’s just as you describe. There is always so very much beauty there in those quiet places. Please know that you have touched my soul as well. 🌷 Thank you, Heidi with warm hugs 🤗❤️

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Such powerful writing, Suzanne! Thank you for sharing your gift with the world here. I marvel your butterfly lived such a long life without ever being able to fly. Miss B was fortunate to have been delivered to you! I’ve only experienced one close encounter with a butterfly. He landed on my knee while I sat on our deck. For a number of minutes he perched quite still and allowed me to study his every feature, including tiny yellow and black stripes on his antennae. I marveled that God painted such detail, since few would ever see. But for those of us privileged to observe such intricate features, the pleasure is sublime.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Dear Nancy, what a marvelous moment! He sounds beyond beautiful and I know that you will hold that in your heart forever. Thank you for sharing it with me! Aren’t they absolutely amazing? Such a sweet reminder of how much care God takes with all things. I feared I would be inadequate to care for her, that I wouldn’t find the food she liked or provide enough water or on the other hand that maybe I would do too much of something and she would accidentally come to harm. One day at a time until we had 3 months together, a long time for a painted lady. She taught me a great deal. Thank you so very kindly for taking such time to visit. Have a beautiful day! Suzanne 🦋🌷

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  9. Touching lines Suzanne. It is Love. Everything around us is Love. Filled with it. We just have to believe and feel it.
    Loved the way you fed Miss B. Its so beautiful to hold the natures precious gift in your own hands. At times when I try to make a squirrel stop it looks at me with amazement and runs away. I know I am no relative but I want to talk. (My lines after it runs away.) 😀

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    1. Morning Kritika!
      Thank you for the sweet smile! Squirrels are so happy and curious and jittery 😄. I can just imagine your little friend sneaking up to say hello in his shy way.
      I discovered that watermelon was safest and she liked it best of all. Bananas didn’t work out so well. 🙃. You’re so right about love and I know from your writing that you are one who believes and feels deeply… thank you dearly Kritika. Have a sweet day my dear friend 🌷🦋

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  10. Wow… what a beautiful story, what gorgeous photos, and what a lovely person. Sweet blue and butterfly heaven! Wonderful to see you again 🤗💕 Happy new year to you Suzanne, hope it was a lovely one. 🙏💛

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Lia 💞 She was such a beautiful adventure. 💙So happy to see you too! Happy New Year to you and yours! I hope the days ahead will be brilliant and kind to You…and inspiring!! 🥰🙏🌷

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