Most butterflies live only for a few weeks – a very short time to delight us and remind us of the transience of life. When they come out of their chrysalises, their wings are still wet and need the right temperature to dry. Thereafter, they can spread their wings and take their first flight. Getting stuck in water therefore means having wet wings and not being able to fly and find food. A short life further shortened.
In the Butterfly House today, amateur and professional photographers gather with paparazzi-like huge lenses and flashes. By the pond with water lilies and lotuses, their shutters click and flashes flash non-stop. I look at the dark pond but can’t see their subject. When they disperse, I come closer. “Look, Mom, there’s one in the water!” says a child. “Oh, my! It’s dead!” replies the mom. I look at the poor thing and see its legs move. Still alive, I say to myself. Wings should dry up. I wait for the last photographer to finish her job and ask, "Can we save it now?" I scoop it up and out of the water. “Mom, it’s still alive!” says the same child following me. “She’s putting it in a flower.” It doesn’t let go of my fingers for a while, as if clinging on for protection, afraid to be on its own again. It takes some time before it finally moves to the purple bloom and stays there to feed and dry while I prepare to leave with a sigh.