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…
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.
Many things I write never quite make it to here. This was almost one of them. I was going to share something else instead. I changed my mind. This is what asked to be written. The world sorely needs kindness and grace these days.
There is a deep soulfulness in all things…
Things, isn’t really the right word to mean so much
There is gentle strength in the waters,
A belief in forever that climbs the trees,
My spirit soars with every wing that defies gravity, and settles with every creature who comes to drink at the pond’s edge
…there is so much to love…
The sky is white as though it is full with snow
The ground is charcoal, somber yet soft
And I wish that the one, would fall upon the other, as I walk in the world between them, overflowing with why’s and how’s
This is my real right now
My here, today
The forest smolders…
I watch the message drifting in the smoke…of what should not be
Every day, stories plead to be seen and beg to be heard
It will be hard, I thought,
I was right
I must go anyway, I thought,
…one step at a time.
If only my tears could be like rain
And calm the flame.
There is a beautiful trench in the sand. Beautiful to me. It declares that men were here, strong ones, who came to help. The line they labored to create slowed down the creeping and saved a great deal. I may never know their names, but I am…grateful, that they do what they do. Everything, would be different, if they didn’t.
Days ago, I walked unbelieving, in this strange world that I struggled to recognize.
There was a coyote,
Alone and searching,
For a time we both paused
…I could see my own question
Reflected in his quiet eyes…
What has happened to my home…
Each day I return,
I won’t stop being here
You must do the thing you think you cannot do. I smile a little at the words echoing in my mind. How many wonderful thoughts of others float within me granting me courage.
The more that I write, the more that I know – my hurting is one small stone from the mountain of hurting in the world right now – my hope is but a glimmer of the way we comfort one another in not knowing what is next.
I wander the woods, checking on little things to be sure they are ok and to help where I can.
A tree that arcs like a rainbow, is well and fine
Turtles rest content atop their logs
Ducks are ducking and diving happily as they are wont to do
Wildflowers are blooming
Trees are greening up more each day. In some places the sky can barely be seen now. The ways of spring approach quickly.
Bringing with them…new life
The wind whispers from over the water…how I love to close my eyes and feel it caress my cheek.
High above me is the raucous call of my rare jungle bird!
His song is as sweet to me as any I have ever heard, especially today. It means that his home survived.
He is busy as usual, at his work…and play….as usual. How comforting for anything right now to be…as usual…
There is so very much to be grateful for,
In every drop of rain and closed tight seed,
In every wing that flies and heart that beats,
Lives the promise of hope…
This land doesn’t belong to me, not the flora, the fauna, the earth, the air or the water.
Yet, I know without any doubt, that we are Each and All a part of the whole
To love and care for each other is the only way through. It is the hope we have and the hope we give gracefully away.
We are in this together, in this life full of questions
In the embers and the ashes, in the flowers and the rain
Even now, as I finish this from the swing, a bright red cardinal hops about nearby. It’s a cool misty morning and he cheers me with his non-hurried and non-worried search for breakfast. Peacefully at his task. Knowing that there is enough and that all shall be well…