~summer shorts~ butterfly shadows

I have been gathering the dried seed heads of the various columbine flowers that grow in my garden, and was headed to the final patch, the one that grows under the butterfly bush with the dark purple flowers, which are in brilliant bloom in late July.

I was so focused on the seed collection task, hunched over and looking down, that I was startled to see a shadow among the bush’s own shadow that was moving, a flutter that betrayed its being cast by something more than leaf. Abruptly, I stood up and almost hit my head on a butterfly.

This swallowtail had such tattered wings that I could see the purple of the flowers through the hole in its left forewing. It was also missing the frilly lobe that should be along the trailing edge of the left hindwing, and had other torn and frayed edges, signs of a long, hard journey, perhaps beating to windward.

It spent a long time sipping from the bright orange throats of the dark purple flowers and let me take close photos on that bright sunny day. I was grateful for this little reminder of the butterfly effect of gratitude, grateful also for the visual reminder that we may be tattered and beat up, but we should keep going, that there is still beauty in our surviving, that there is still sweetness to drink in.

I find it interesting that I saw its shadow first, even while looking down. I am peering into shadows even in summer, because if 2020 was a butterfly, it would be the most shredded looking one still flying the friendly skies. Even though July is full of bright sunshine and winged beings for the sun to shine upon, this is a different sort of summer in a different sort of year.

Normally July is a time of flying around the country visiting family, this time of wings and flight. Instead, this July is a month of being still and figuring out how to be okay with that, grieving the loss of that time with beloved kin.

As I peer into the shadows, I must remember that at least these shadows are being cast by butterflies, and take note that it is also the time of year to stop, spread my wings out on a leaf, and just absorb some sunlight.

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