Of Butterflies and Other Disturbing Things That Float

There is a manic busyness to butterflies that reminds a person that life is short. On average, a butterfly lives about a month, which is practically a luxury when compared to the mayfly which lives as an adult for less than a day—time which is basically spent reproducing before giving up their tiny ghosts. There is a lesson in this, probably.*

It’s hard to take a bad photo here, but going out at noon when the shadows are flat helps.

Because the human life span promises an extravagance of time, we tend to play fast and loose with our possibilities. We waste time to a degree that that Mother Nature shakes her head and throws plagues and severe storms at us for the occasional wake-up call.  I was reminded of this while photographing butterflies at Meijer Gardens this weekend.

“Tower to Echo leader, Bravo leader is coming in hot for a landing. Prepare crash teams.”

Saturday, I shutterbugged my way through hordes of Vitamin-D deficient, pale mid-westerners who frolicked in the sun like they forgot what the glowing ball in the sky meant.** It was a good day to be out. Bright, warm. If I hadn’t had a raging headache, the day would have been perfect.

“Abort landing, Bravo. Pull up! Echo has claimed the landing leaf and isn’t budging, the wanker! Tower out.”

A babysitter sprinted after my son who was like a hound off his leash, allowing me the privilege of a leisurely inspection of the Japanese Gardens where incipient spring threatens pollen bombing if the warm weather continues.

“I’m ready for my close-up, Mr. DeMille.”

In my haste to worship the sun god, I neglected my hat and sunscreen routine. After ensuring that I’d exposed myself long enough to accrue a good case of sunstroke, I scampered inside to jam myself between iPhone happy strangers all trying to immortalize terrorized butterflies in unwilling selfies in the arboretum.

Black and White – A dramatic pause on a posy.

April signifies the end of the Butterfly Exhibit—a seasonal tradition at the gardens guaranteeing huge crowds as winter slips its stranglehold on the state. It also signals the end of the butterflies’ tiny life spans. Maybe it was just me, but their ragged wings and spastic flapping seemed tragic even as I too tried to pin their image to a digital cork board. It’s a macabre pastime only ameliorated by the lack of chloroform and a ‘humane’ practice of letting the poor things live out their sexless lives, out of season, trapped in a giant glass prison.  I quash my guilt in order to enjoy myself.

Would it kill them to introduce one female into the group?  Would  it?

Throbbing skull aside, it was a perfect day. [Cue Ominous Music.]

We’re walking back to the car when, suddenly, I realize something is blocking the vision in my right eye.  There is a shadow pantomime something like a stick and a jellyfish sword fighting wherever I look. I’ve had similar incidents in the past, but nothing on this scale. I’m not the brightest girl in the world, but, taking the headache into consideration, it occurs to me something might be wrong.

A visual representation of the butterflies churning in my stomach.

I scurry home, upload my pictures (because, hey, priorities), and chat with a friend to ask her opinion. She agrees, it is probably a floater and it’s no big deal.  Because I suffer a certain amount of paranoia married with an overactive imagination and access to the internet, I come up with a different conclusion: I’ve detached a retina and I could lose my vision altogether.*** I call my friend who is a doctor, she says, “It’s probably nothing, but at your age with your severe myopia it could be a detached retina. If you can, you should have it looked at.”

Butterflies are fluttering, nihilistic harbingers–just better dressed than most.

Fast forward to an emergency visit to an ophthalmologist’s office, and she confirms it: “It’s just a big floater.  We’ll have you come back in three weeks to see how it’s doing.”

Looks harmless.  Total death merchant.

So, there you have it, butterflies are pernicious omens of ill will and doom, signifying the end of all things. Of course, that could just be the dancing jellyfish in my eye playing tricks on me.


Asterisk Bedazzled Footnotes:

*Mayfly mantra: more sex, less effing around with laundry and shit.

**We had. I call it winter amnesia.

***This is aptly called free-floating anxiety.  Also, part of me wants to call this a detached retinue–because all of the  voices in my head have abandoned me to run around in a panic.

14 thoughts on “Of Butterflies and Other Disturbing Things That Float

    1. To ensure they do not procreate. It is intentional, as they only house the butterflies for a few months–the end of February to the end of April. What is really sad is there is a species of moth that has no mouth. (Atlas Moth–Google the poor bastard.) All it lives for is to do the nasty and die. It doesn’t even get to eat a last meal. Just imagine how pathetic it is, flying around the arboretum checking out all the other moths with decreasing hopes. It’s probably a lot like a bar at closing time.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Well, it’s great for tourism and the arboretum as a whole keeps me from wanting to commit hari kari during the long winter months. This is of little comfort to the butterflies though, I would imagine.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. It’s truly better to have it checked- glad you did. It’s like a heart attack that way….

    I had something similar a few years back. Being extremely nearsighted, off I went to the ER. It wasn’t a detachment, but it was something kinda weird that did need (non-emergent) medical attention…so….

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s just hard to realize that the warranty has run out on some major body parts. (You’d think after a hip replacement, this would be nothing. But I use my eyes to see and stuff.)

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh, wait, this was where I was supposed to reply? Dang, technology foils me again. I have no idea how you set up the ‘post’ within a comment feature. Very tech-savvy that. Thanks again for the sharing of my over-exaggerated medical mishap. I live to serve. (Insert winky-face here.)


  2. Butterflies, what wankers. I would _totes_ blame them for your detached retinue! Or putting the floater in there in the first place, a little cosmic payback for their impendingly quick demises… 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Revenge of the Butterflies–sounds like a B-grade horror film. Actors would dress up in filmy costumes and enact rage-induced havoc on lepidopterists. Large impaling devices would no doubt be involved.

      Liked by 1 person

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