“Hoping to catch your eye Circling around you, oh my Butterfly, butterfly, come into the light Oh, what a beautiful sight Flying so gracefully Into the sky, the butterfly Trying to catch a butterfly Fly, fly, fly, butterfly. . .” – Sharon Adamson
A few years ago I was inspired by a visit to our zoo where they had just opened their new butterfly garden. I wish I had a camera at the time. My son, then only 10, was wearing a bright red cap and a pretty little yellow butterfly landed right on his head, maybe thinking the red cap was a big red flower. It rested there for a few seconds then flittered away. The butterfly house was packed with colorful butterflies flying every which way.
Later I began to think about the metamorphosis process butterflies go through, and I couldn’t help feeling it was similar to the transformation I had traveled toward deafness. For awhile I went through a self-imposed isolation while adjusting to the changes taking place within me. Then one day I realized I wanted to make the most of life as a late-deafened person. I was tired of the cocoon. I tentatively reached out, and as I opened up more and more, I discovered I was a changed person.
I had gone through a metamorphosis, just like the butterflies around me. I began to think of them as a symbol of my transformation.
I started my own butterfly garden. Little by little I began planting flowers to attract them. I stopped spraying my plants with poison that might kill their young, and I put out little tiny cups for water for them to drink from when it became too dry in the summer.
A butterfly garden isn’t always pretty. It isn’t filled with beautiful or rare hybrids that need a lot of attention. Butterflies prefer wildflowers and “weeds” that grow naturally in their regions. To attract butterflies one must be willing to overlook caterpillars eating leaves and to allow weeds where a mother butterfly might lay her larvae. I’ve learned to see weeds and caterpillars in a new light.
Because I often talk about my butterfly garden, people sometimes ask to see. They expect a show of colorful, fragrant flowers. My yard is not beautiful. It’s natural. I can see the disappointment on their faces when they realize my entire weedy yard is butterfly compatible. They look at my jumble of blackberry vines, oregon grape and salal, then grimace. The “garden” is not in just one tiny section. After all, butterflies fly away. I want them to be safe everywhere.
There have been a few surprises along the way. For example, an increase in wildlife to my yard. You see, the wildflowers attract squirrels, deer and especially hummingbirds, as well as other birds–woodpeckers, stellers jays, chicadees, which attract raccoons because of the eggs laid, which attract coyote because of the abundance of small prey. . . We now have an entire family of raccoons living somewhere in our side yard. I’ve watched them collecting crows eggs high up in a tree, while the crows took turns dive-bombing them. It’s entertaining to sit in my yard and watch the wild animal show–coyotes running across the driveway in pursuit of something, deer resting in the grass with their young. Yeah– the grass would look better mowed, but deer prefer tall grass and also the blackberry brambles in my lower yard.
These past few years, as I’ve thrown myself into gardening for butterflies, I’ve developed a new passion for gardens and wildlife I never had before. This, in itself, has propelled me towards further acceptance of my deafness. Gardening replaced the piano I miss. Even in winter months I plan what I’m going to do to my yard come spring to attract more butterflies.
Then– I learned something new. Butterflies in all their splendid color are deaf!! I now see them as God’s special little angels. They’re here to remind us there’s beauty in deafness and in the NATURAL world around us.
If you’ve been wondering where I’ve been lately, you’ll find me in the garden.
A beautiful Monarch butterfly flew on my finger. I couldn’t resist my thoughts at this time; of wondering its purpose and meaning! I have been told, because butterflies emerge transformed from a cocoon, they are often seen as symbols of rebirth. I was very receptive to this description, as this time in my life; I needed this confirmation and self awareness for a fresh beginning. I may never know its meaning, but this would be a memory I would cherish for a lifetime.