Photo by Melody

The Day the Butterfly Came to the Edge of the City - a Story for Earth Day

By Carrie Lamont (carrielamontApril 22, 2008

A lot of people on Dave's Garden have butterfly gardens; there's even a forum specifically for people to discuss their love of butterflies. But we live within earshot of one of the big old cities in the Northeast. I never thought we would see a butterfly in OUR garden! Today, Earth Day 2008, seemed like the right day to tell you about it...

Gardening picture


Sure, I like butterflies, who doesn't like butterflies? I had just never expected to see one in our garden. They just flutter on by, right?

You see, I live on the edge of a big city. In my town, we cope with yellow-jackets, raccoons, ants, mosquitoes and mice, and with Town By-Laws--not with butterflies.
Still, one day, one ordinary August day, an American Painted Lady came to call on us.
We almost didn't notice our esteemed guest, but my husband was practicing with my new macro lens, and he spotted it. (Or should I say "he spotted her?" How do you tell with a butterfly, anyway?)
Of course, I only know about the American Painted Lady detail because I came in afterwards and asked on Dave's Garden, and somebody pointed me in the right direction. Today, you could simply go to BugFiles.
I know many of you plant gardens that are designed specifically to attract butterflies. Ours isn't that kind of garden. A butterfly visiting our garden is likely to get run over by a tractor-trailer truck on the way. There is a Butterfly House at the zoo, in the city, but the butterflies there all live in a huge cage, not in gardens.
So we were surprised, no, awe-struck, at the arrival of this afternoon caller. She did not seem surprised to see us. She nearly ignored us altogether, in fact. (Can butterflies act blasé?)
We were shy and awkward with our new guest. Are there Rules of Butterfly Etiquette that cover this situation? We didn't know how to act or what to say. We decided not to say anything, and communicated through whispers and gestures. (Can butterflies hear?)
And she didn't just flutter by; she lingered, she preened and posed while we made clumsy attempts to photograph her. She seemed particularly fond of a tall pink coneflower I had been planning to dig up.
I know that many of you recognize her on sight, are on a first-name basis with her and her entire extended family, and are probably laughing at our amateurish attempts to photograph her.
While my husband and I were just staring with dropped jaws, my daughter came out of the house and quickly sized up the situation. Being young and nimble, she picked up the point-and-shoot camera, and stealthily waded through the flowers to get a better shot.
Then she went back in with the new macro lens while I took a few of her. None of the film pictures with the macro lens came out. These, that you see here, are pretty miserable from the standards of BugFiles or the Hummingbird and Butterfly Gardening Forum. I humbly ask you, please judge them from the city mouse's perspective.
We will never forget the remarkable, ordinary summer day that the butterfly graced our little garden with a visit, and we will be planting flowers with her in mind from now on. It's Earth Day - even your changes will make a difference and make the earth a more welcoming place for Holy Life.


  About Carrie Lamont  
Carrie LamontCarrie clicks on every link. She has been married for fourteen delightful years and has two beautiful daughters who are nearly grown-ups. Her husband retired in October (from America's favorite airline) with enough travel benefits to fly Carrie nearly anywhere she wants to go. She lived in Texas for 2012-2014, but has just moved back to New England where she feels most at home. Carrie has a masters degree in Music, and hums to herself as she gardens. Follow her on Google.

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