Day 28: The Impossible Butterfly

I wrote this last Saturday evening right after it happened, and posted it to Twitter. I had plans for writing something different today, but our cat had other plans, and became ill. So I’ve just spent most of the day in the “waiting room” (sitting in the car until called), and then having the cat treated. It’s odd how doing almost nothing all day long can exhaust you!

So rather than write something brand-new, I thought I’d re-post my incredible experience. If you’ve followed this blog, you’d know that I raise caterpillars of the Easter Black Swallowtail butterfly, from here, here, here, and here.

I’m at a complete loss for words. I just experienced something I didn’t think was possible.

Earlier today a butterfly emerged from one of the pupas in my nursery. He had a wing deformity (yes, it was a male), and when he attempted to fly, he couldn’t get more than a few feet before returning to the ground

Resigned that he wasn’t going to survive, I placed him on a flowering plant in the yard, and assumed that nature would take its course, and the butterfly would soon die.

I kept returning every hour or so throughout the evening to check on him, and he hadn’t moved very far on the plant. As the evening grew late, I wanted to say my goodbyes. I know it seems silly, but raising these marvelous creatures from egg to adult creates an attachment. I placed my fingers in front of him, and he instinctively climbed up onto my hand. I spoke to him, telling him how sorry I was that his wing was deformed, so he wasn’t going to be able to fly and live his life.

After a minute or so, he started flapping his wings, and flew for a few feet, as he had done before, but quickly landed on the ground. I again placed my hand in front of him, and again he climbed aboard. I talked to him a little bit more, and again he started to flap his wings. This time, though, he flew!

I watched him fly across the yard, up over the garage, and then over the back fence. He quickly disappeared into the distance, and I couldn’t see him any longer.

I don’t know what kind of life he will have, but to be able to fly away on his own is something I truly never thought he would be capable of. I am still feeling that warm giddiness at witnessing what I had thought was impossible.

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