Another Lesson Learned

Here’s a “before” picture of our butterfly bush, taken in May 2011.

By the end of August, the storms had taken a toll on it. Many of the leaves looked like they had been through a shredder. The right side of the bush was beaten down, the branch split. It looked like a house divided. 

I considered cutting off the broken section, but couldn’t quite bring myself to do it. I thought once it showed signs of dying, it would be easier to part with.

A few more storms have passed this way, and the main body of the bedraggled butterfly bush is showing its faded glory. 

October came and went, and not much attention was given to deadheading. Regarding it from the back door this week, it looked so forlorn. It was one of those 70+ degree days, and I needed an excuse to go outside, anyway, so I took the pruning shears and set out to shape it up a bit. The above picture is what I saw from the house, but this is what I found on the broken down side. Still lush and green, and loaded with blossoms. 

So, I learned another life lesson: Don’t give up when the storms of life beat us down, the harsh winds stripping away things we think we need, bending us out of shape. Where there is life, there is  hope. There is always hope. 

To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that He might be glorified. Is.61:3

Storms of Life

I sit on the back steps, a storm brewing, inside and out. Where a blanket of humidity cloaked me a few minutes earlier, a strong breeze has now cleared the mugginess, and the mosquitoes. 

I think of injustices, of those who are down and out and the kicks keep coming. 

The clanging of the neighbor’s chimes increases. Acorns being hurled toward the ground bounce off the fiberglass patio cover with a bang, along with a few weakened branches, mortally wounded by Irene’s visit. 

The wind continues to pick up, leaves are tossed briskly about, across the yard, across the neighborhood, maybe. 

The birds chirp a rapid warning song amidst the darkness that gathers over their habitat. A cardinal pair stops by for a quick meal before the storm arrives in fullness and they must flee for cover. 

The rhododendron were damaged when the neighbor’s oak was removed. They didn’t like their new environment, baked by a relentless summer sun. I tired of crunchy leaves appearing daily, and today, I put an end to their suffering. And my suffering, by cutting back the ugliness. Now they are nothing more than bare sticks protruding from the ground like a modern sculpture.

All that's left after a branch fell on it

The injuries to the butterfly bush, beaten and broken by Irene, are becoming more evident as the leaves wither. My mind’s eye compares the now-torn-to-pieces perennial to it’s pre-hurricane plushness. I mourn its loss.

I walk nearer, for a closer look. What I find, is life. Fresh blooms, bees, butterflies. Though its soul has suffered, its spirit thrives and gives life to those who come seeking sustenance. Looks can be deceiving. What might have been cut off and cast aside, beckons with all it has left to offer. 

Once again, my mind returns to the still-increasing wind gusts, the darkening of the sky, and I look heavenward.  

And my spirit is renewed with hope. The butterfly bush still manifests life from its weary, storm-battered branches, so can I. And so can you. 

Hungry and thirsty, they fainted; their lives were near to being extinguished. Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and He delivered them out of their distresses. Psalm 107:5-6


Variegated Fritillary and Buckeye

The pigeon may have surprised me with its presence the other day, but this is what I was hoping to find outside: 

Variegated Fritillary
Wingspan approximately 2 inches (5.08 cm)
Please pardon the hand. I was trying to get a better shot. This butterfly made sure I got my exercise, and I think it was tired of me chasing it all-around-the-butterfly-bush (reminded me of a childhood song–only that included a mulberry bush).

Wingspan approximately 2.25 inches (5.7 cm)
This little sweetie posed like a pro. Maybe it felt sorry for me, after watching me chase the fritillary. Or maybe it decided I was harmless, after all.  

Thanks for coming to look! 


Lions and Tigers and Bees, Oh My!

Ok, I admit it, the lion part was fiction. Unless you consider I was “lion down” on the job, preoccupied with earthquakes and hurricanes. 

Before our little earth-shaking adventure, I was out in the yard and found not one, but TWO Tiger Swallowtails on the butterfly bush. 

And a bumblebee, too!Tomorrow, I’m going to have a guest posting my blog. I can’t wait for you to meet her! 



Skippers–Tiny Treasures

There don’t seem to be many large butterflies, or the variety, in our area this summer. In past years there have been red admirals, painted ladies, tiger swallowtails, monarchs, and buckeyes, to name a few. 

This year, the skippers have only had to share the butterfly bush with the bumblebees, for the most part. 

One day, taking a break from weeding, I sat on the back steps where I could 1) find shade, and 2) observe the goings-on in the garden. That’s when I caught sight of several groups of glistening golden dancers, spiraling and crisscrossing and resembling little golden orbs, vying for a juicy blossom on the butterfly bush.

Their wings are so unique in how they fold, compared to the butterflies we normally see in pictures. I’ve learned that once they are open, I’d better snap the picture quickly, as they are about to flit to another flower. This one (above) was the most patient with me, like it didn’t mind being the center of attention for a bit. Most skipper’s wingspans are approximately one inch (2.54 cm). I might be figuring out butterfly photography–take 500 pictures and MAYBE there’ll be a couple worth posting!