Finally bursting into growth this year, our lilac bush is covered with swallowtail butterflies. All around us, the pollinators steadily work: hummingbird, bee, wasp. The butterflies are uniquely magical, though, wholly silent, almost tame enough to touch my hand near the fragrant blossoms. Then, like a shimmering cloud of colored papers, they lift off one-by-one and disappear, upward, into the apple tree’s canopy.
My daughter’s favorite scene in My Neighbor Totoro is when little Mei lies sleeping on the Totoro in the forest, while butterflies flicker and rise. In that same spirit, the book I’m writing holds spring azures near its end, these exquisitely beautiful creatures who appear mistakenly fragile, yet are graced with flight and fertility, mightily powerful.
….Come often to us (butterflies), fear no wrong;
Sit near us on the bough!
We’ll talk of sunshine and of song,
And summer days, when we were young;
Sweet childish days, that were as long
As twenty days are now.
– William Wordsworth, “To a Butterfly”