Friday, September 4, 2009

Death of a Butterfly

At the state fair, they have an exhibit called the Butterfly House. From outside the building, through a window you can see row upon row of unborn butterflies attached to what look like towels. In this display, you can also see the butterflies that have just been born and are in various stages of drying their wings off so they can join their flying kin in the rest of the exhibit where they are free within the confines of the building, and people can interact with them like lawn furniture.

Looking at the newly hatched butterflies at first brought me joy. Some species I had never seen before.  The colors were so vibrant, the patterns so startling.  Entranced is the word I am looking for to describe me and all the kids looking at these stages of butterfly birth.

And then down in the very left-hand corner, I saw a dying baby butterfly. Somehow it had fallen too far forward and gotten its still-heavy-with-moisture wings trapped underneath the towel that lined the bottom of the display. It kept struggling to get a hold of the glass and pull itself out so its wings could dry straight, but for whatever reason, probably because most of its weight was in its crumpled up wings, all it could do was struggle, increasingly weakly between longer rests. No one could help it; I could see that from the way the display was constructed.  A little bad luck had doomed this newborn critter, and because of that and because it just wasn't strong enough, it was going to die there, trapped.

I had to walk away before I started crying beside all those happy children just because I noticed that one little butterfly stuck on its back like a turtle, dying instead of drying so it could fly away.

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