I Adopted a Butterfly

I sat next to her, hand sewing, but highly distracted. Her very presence held me captive.

I had received a call at the garden center I manage. The woman on the other line was hesitant, and slightly frantic. She explained that her husband had been preparing to take out the now-expired Christmas tree. He heard a commotion inside the tree.

A butterfly had hatched during Christmas! He was able to catch it. Another seemed to be fluttering about somewhere in the tree, but they couldn’t seem to locate it. That one had gone out and met winter. (*note* I would have cut the tree branch-by-branch to find the other one, especially after this experience.) I told her she could bring it over to Highland Gardens and I would take care of it.

She arrived with the butterfly in a small container. Her pre-teen daughter was very concerned. She told me she had gone on the internet to find out what to feed it. She had included apple and orange slices, a white carnation and a few sprigs of the Christmas tree.

It was a Swallowtail. One of her wings had not fully developed upon being “born”, and that wing was also broken along the top edge, most likely damaged during capture.

She was quiet, although would occasionally just freak out, fluttering and carrying on, I believe trying to fly. I decided to try to splint her wing. I had a piece of dried lemon grass and some glue. The butterfly had other ideas, and was not a willing patient. She finally broke off the top part of the one wing while throwing a fit in her container.

I take her out in the mornings and she walks around, climbing on me or over the carpet. She drinks orange juice from a slice, which I also saturate with a sugar solution. I can not locate any organic cut flowers.

Today, I took her out and she climbed to the top of a pillow where a sunbeam was shining. I watched as she positioned herself, turning to get full sun exposure, then adjusting her leg heights so she angled for optimum basking. Her yellow spots shimmered, the blue spots iridescent. She seemed to be meditating. As I looked on with unwavering attention, her wings began to quickly pulse/vibrate, as if she was filled with joy. I was filled with rapture. She moved on the pillow as the sun’s path moved, taking a few steps, readjusting her angle, and continuing to bask.

What a totally magnificent thing, a butterfly. We watch them flutter by in our summer gardens, but what a treat to have the opportunity to see her up close, really observe.

I am humbled, and in love with a butterfly. ~Erica

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About the Author

Erica Shaffer

Erica Shaffer is the sage plantswoman we've all come to rely upon for inspiration is the garden. She extends her infectious energy into her work as Nursery Manager for Highland Gardens, Landscape design, and garden blogging for their website. http://www.highlandgardens.org/

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