A fleeting, fluttering friendship that will last with me for a while.
This is a story about finding friendship when you least expect it.
It was around 6 pm on a lazy Saturday afternoon by the pool. We were busy pottering around, pruning the roses, and fighting with the weeds. The water in the pool was sparkling and spotless. The terracotta tiles around the pool simmered with stored sunshine. It was just another perfectly ordinary day of my life.
I looked down at the pool’s edge and saw a butterfly with little brown and black wings lying dead in the shallow waters. Nothing special about the wings or the finding. We often get a lot of insects and flies that die in the water. So I bent down to pick it up and remove it from the otherwise spotless water, and the wings moved.
That was a little surprising given how dead the butterfly looked. I was not expecting resistance. So encouraged by the reaction I picked her up and deposited her on the side. She immediately started to move. As if awakened from a deep slumber. Or just plain scared from my touch. Or just excited to be back on dry ground. Ready to fly away.
But it had landed on its head so needed a little help to straighten up, which I did. I expected it to immediately fly away and that would be the end of the interaction. But I noticed that one of her wings was not exactly aligned to the other. I noticed that each of her wings was divided into two parts and one of those parts was broken.
Hoping for the best, I blamed the flight problem on the water that had soaked into her wings. Butterflies with wet wings are like planes with ice on them. I have spent hours on the runways in airports around the world watching the wings of the planes being de- Iced. Painful but essential for a safe flight.
Taking a cue from that memory I decided to pick her up and place her on my side table that was high enough to get some extra wind that was blowing in from the west. The wind was dry and warm and I thought that would be the perfect fix. I put my finger down to offer her a lift and to my delight, she walked onto my finger and moved her wings as if to say, “yup, that should fix it.”
I lifted her slowly and looked at her carefully. She had a slim golden brown body and a couple of antennas that were black in color with orange tips at the top. Against the sunlight, her wings looked like a finely woven piece of silk with veins running in all directions. They looked so much like a silk leaf. She was beautiful.
I carefully placed her on my side table, next to my glass of beer. She just sat there, as if resting and adjusting to the new height and altitude. The wind had picked up just in time. I thought that was a good omen as it would aid her eventual flight. She seemed confident too.
Her wings were now beginning to move. Slowly. But with much more intent. My de- icing theory was proving to be right. She just needed to dry her wet wings and she will be off into the sunset. I just sat there and waited, totally absorbed in her mind and body.
Suddenly there was a gust of wind and I looked down excitedly to see the butterfly had taken flight. Yes… she was off.
But the flight was short. She had flown off the table and back down to the grass. Her wings were still not strong enough. I could see she was trying to move them but they would not let her fly. The wing that was broken had got worse.
I was a bit sad to see that. I was hoping for a grand return to the air for the little one. But she was still not feeling strong enough. But I had not given up hope. She looked wide awake and keen to fly.
I am a big fan of butterflies because they know how to transform themselves from insects that crawl into ones that grow wings and fly. Metamorphosis is not for the faint-hearted. You have to be willing to dissolve to be reborn. I have read that the larva retains the memory of being a larva even when they become a butterfly. Humans dream of becoming their higher selves. But most live out their lives wishing for it, or worse, not realizing that they have that option.
The sun was beginning to set. She was looking a bit sleepy. I think she preferred to have a bit of a rest on the grass. The weather was perfect for a little snooze. So I saw she walked up to a blade of grass that was sticking out from the rest and tucked her wings almost to get the perfect view of the lake in the distance while her wings had a rack to rest. She had not moved too far away from my table. Occasionally she would look at me, wiggle her antennas and move her wings as if to say, “It is getting better, buddy. Just need some rest and we will be airborne again.”
I was distracted by some of my friends who wanted me to help within the house with the cooking. I had to leave my friend. I looked down and I saw that she had tucked her wings in. They now looked perfectly aligned. Like the way, she used to have them. Like the way, she used to fly around the pool and the house.
The wings fell silent.
I think she had fallen asleep. Dreaming of the fantastic flight that she was going to make when she woke up. I had to leave here there.
Before I left, I just stroked her wings once and wished them well. She did not resist. She was fast asleep.
Bye, Bye Butterfly.