CAROLYN'S COMPOSITIONS

July 15, 2008

A BLUE BUTTERFLY and STAR GAZER LILIES


The temperate summer evening, that last day of July, was perfect for a stroll. I’d been sitting at my computer most of the day writing, and the exercise was a welcome relief. As was the brief encounters with my neighbors, who were also enjoying the evening.

One neighbor, seeing my camera, suggested I snap a photo of her lilies for the community newsletter. I thanked her, thinking “Lilies. They’re all over the place, and I already posted an excellent photo of a deep red one.”

Regardless, I walked by her house to check out the situation, and I was pleasantly surprised. The shot that was successful portrayed lilies of three different colors—medium orange, deep orange—and pink, these being Star Gazer lilies.

It reminded me of another July evening just as perfect for strolling. I lived in the city, with far fewer trees, flowers and grasses. As I ambled by a house that was being demolished, I spotted mounds of rock-filled dirt piles surrounded a gaping hole that was once a basement. Could the crumbling stone walls tell stories of children hiding and playing, parents working and boxes flooded? Currently it was an attractive nuisance where kids could get hurt if they used it as a hiding place.

There was only a foot of space between the sidewalk and the road, where healthy blue-blossomed chicory blossoms grew surrounded by brownish blades of grass. Other flowers were dull and wilted from the summer’s drought conditions.

A few houses away was a house accented with spotted bright pink and white star gazer lilies that stood up tall and true, their regal growth boasting of a dedicated caretaker whose concern circumvented the arid soil. The owner took pride in the floral display, and had watched me capture its beauty with my camera a few days before.

I had to be careful of my footing so I wouldn’t fall on the broken sidewalk with its muted brown/gray cement that blended with the dry dirt blanketing it. Scraggly growth unsuccessfully attempted to grow in that soil between the cracks.

Then my foot stopped in mid-air. It was about to land on a black and blue butterfly! Stone cold dead, but perfect!

I was reluctant to return home for a container to bed the creature in because I was afraid someone else’s foot would crush the fragile insect into millions of pieces. So I knocked on the door of a nearby was a house where I slightly knew the owners.

A young person answered.

“Would you have an envelope—any envelope, even used—I can have?” I asked. She gave me a look that said “It takes all kinds!”

I know she didn’t understand my explanation but she provided me with a fresh new business size envelope. At least Blue-Bouy was scooped into a clean storage package.

I spent the next day photographing flowers with Blue-Bouy attached. I’d glued a small weight to his belly and gently laid him on a peach/pink geranium. His photo went on a roll of film that had captured pictures of a yellow butterfly I referred to as “Stupid,” since he’d flown onto my porch, trapping himself in the window. After his photo shoot I freed him.

While sharing the pictures with my newspaper editor I told him how challenging it was taking good pictures of a nervous butterfly. He jokingly said, “You should photograph a dead butterfly. They don’t move.”

I rifled through my photos and found Blue-Bouy.

“Here,” I said, handing him the photo, “is a picture of a dead butterfly!”

As good as Blue-Bouy looked on the geranium, it wasn’t his taste. He suggested I place Blue-Bouy on one of the Star Gazer lilies.

One of the writers then said:  “Let the butterfly rest in peace,” she said.

I explained: “Blue-Bouy still has lots of work to do, but I understood your concern.”

I again collected my camera, film, a tripod, double stick tape, scissors and Blue-Bouy, I began my photo shoot by taping Blue-Bouy to a beautiful purplish-mauve rose.

Blue-Bouy had difficulty sticking to the Star Gazer lily petals, but I managed to maneuver him into position and complete my task before attaching him to blue morning glories, a Rose of Sharon, a peach rose, and a yellow rose. By then, he was becoming pretty battered. I left him attached to the yellow rose, which I cut, put in a vase and presented to my house-bound neighbor. Blue-Bouy ended the day doing humanitarian service.

On my return to the news office with the new pictures, the writer was mortified at what I’d put Blue-Bouy through. She expressed concern about a final resting place for my model. I assured her I’d create a proper ending for Blue-Bouy, surrounding him with yellow rose petals and perhaps having my pastor spouse design a special service for him.

Meanwhile another writer teasingly put his two cents in.

“You must have enjoyed pulling wings off of insects when you were a child!” he said snidely.

“I treated Blue-Bouy with the greatest of respect,” I retorted, offended. “And in his honor, he should be memorialized in a feature shot in Sunday’s paper!”

He was. And that ends the story of a butterfly that unwittingly donated his perfect body to photographic science and humanitarian service.

May you rest in peace, Blue-Boy!

Additional reading:

OBITUARY FOR BLUE BUOY (A Blue Lobster)

BLACK FLIES AND OTHER INSECTS: Then and Now

OF FIREFLIES AND LIGHTNING BUGS

YOU MEAN THIS NEW ENGLANDER IS A WESTSYLVANIAN?

THE AMAZING BEAVER

OH, TO CLIMB SCHOODIC MOUNTAIN (Maine)

SOUTHWESTERN PENNSYLVANIANS DRINK MOXIE: Do They Like It?

LOGGING IN MAINE AND ON THE PERU-BRAZILLIAN BORDER

CHILDISH IMMATURITY

THE AMAZING BEAVER

OH, TO CLIMB SCHOODIC MOUNTAIN (Maine)

SOUTHWESTERN PENNSYLVANIANS DRINK MOXIE: Do They Like It?

EFFECTS OF GLOBAL WARMING ON HISTORICAL NOVEL WRITING

A 1786 MEETING IN VERMONT (Novel #1)

THE OVENS on Mt. Desert Island, Maine

1 Comment »

  1. Apparently blue crabs weren’t as rare as blue lobsters, and judging by the description of the crabs, they are not the beautiful robin’s egg blue sported by Blue Buoy (click on OBITUARY FOR BLUE BUOY (A Blue Lobster ) at the top of the Further Reading list), and do not have the iridescent blue found on the butterfly, Blue-Buoy. However, the blue crabs are definitely becoming scarce due to overfishing and pollution, according to this AP article, Chesapeake watermen fear blue crab not coming back, http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080716/ap_on_bi_ge/blue_crab_blues, published July 17, 2008. Carolyn

    Comment by carolyncholland — July 17, 2008 @ 10:27 pm | Reply


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