The butterfly counts not months but moments, and has time enough.
As far back as I can remember, I've been drawn to butterflies the way moths are drawn to flame.
When I was in elementary school, we lived across the street from an empty lot. The owners let it become overgrown with wildflowers--weeds, really--and cut the snarl of knee-high growth only a few times each summer. I suppose the neighbors considered it to be an eyesore, but to me it was Wonderland and I was Alice.
Every summer day, that corner lot was aflutter with sulphurs and whites, admirals and monarchs, painted ladies and buckeyes, giant fritillaries and tiny blues. I can't imagine how many hours I spent watching, counting, studying and trying to get a closer look at some of the most beautiful creatures in nature.
Since 2003, I've kept a butterfly journal--a recording of the species I observe in my own garden. Most years, the number and variety of visitors to my garden have been good. This year, however, has been an odd one. An anomaly, I hope. Until the last few days, I've seen only cabbage butterflies (hoards of them that actually did devour my cabbage), a couple of skippers, a few monarchs and a couple of fritillaries. Not nearly the turnout of summers past. Could it be the cold spring? The abrupt changeover to a blast-furnace summer? Stifling humidity? Who knows.
I do know this: like everything in nature, butterflies grace our lives only on their terms. At long last, here's what graced my garden this week. Ain't she grand?
Female Eastern Tiger Swallowtail