Flowers that fly

Peacock butterfly (inachis io) by Charlesjsharp  (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Peacock butterfly (inachis io) by Charlesjsharp (CC BY-SA 3.0)

“But these are flowers that fly and all but sing…”Robert Frost

Of all the symbols of summer, perhaps butterflies come the closest to capturing the season.  The brevity of their time here, coupled with their freedom of movement and dazzling visual appeal, seem well matched to the warmer months when we tend to see them most often.

I agree with Frost that the butterflies appear so carefree and joyous as to seem ready to burst into song.  But I think silence is part of their mystique.  They appear as light as petals in the wind, and make no more noise than flowers do.  It’s rare to see anything that moves so rapidly yet soundlessly, flitting nimbly around in endlessly varying flight patterns.

Watching a butterfly can be mesmerizing, almost a form of meditation in itself.  Grace, silence, agility, energy, beauty…all admirable traits I’d like to have more of.  Maybe if I watch enough of them, I can soak up some of these characteristics by osmosis.  In any case, I appreciate their charms and look forward to seeing lots of them before the cold overtakes us again.  I hope you will too!

One year ago today:

Graceful, varied and enchanting



  1. bobmielke

    This is a truly beautiful photo!

    • Thanks Bob, when I saw it on Wikimedia Commons, I just knew I would have to use it. None of my butterfly photos are anywhere close to that pretty. I have been surprised what wonderful photographs are posted there.

  2. raynard

    Julia as we left bible study a few nights ago to get in our van a frog appeared. I took a couple of picture and he moved ” in leaps and bounds( sorta like Superman when he use to change from Janitor closets. Then Underdog in phone booths .. Sorry were was I ? I digress I have this song from a 70’s tv show” Magic Garden ( might of been only out of NYC). it goes”open up the window listen to the wind blow”” The ending song they send” called the goodbye song, I told my wife to play it at my funeral as they” close the casket and” dont serve potato salad and fried chicken afterwards lol. be blessed

    • Surprise Raynard, look what I found: It looks like they were sort of styled after Mr. Rogers, with even a land of make believe. Hey that song they send near the end of this montage, “Mairzy Doats and Dozey Doats” is one I can remember my Daddy singing to us. BTW Carole and Paula are looking pretty good nowadays – The frogs are out in force at this time of year. I have seen them at night too. I always get a kick out of seeing them, I think they’re cute.

  3. Sheila

    Julia, one of my favorite summertime visions is to see a “butterfly bush” with a multitude of butterflies on it. I hope to plant several of those before next summer….. and then enjoy! 🙂 Bill’s dad introduced me to them several years ago so that makes them extra special. The images online are worth looking at. I hope y’all have a good weekend. Has Matt been to camp yet? Love, Sheila

    • Hi Sheila, I have seen butterfly bushes in the past, but I have forgotten what they look like. I should look into them right away, as we are planning to re-do some of our landscaping. Matt did have a great week at camp and hopes to have one more this summer (to make up for the one he missed due to emergency surgery last year). Won’t that be cool if we both get butterfly bushes this year?

      • Sheila

        We’re WAY too cool!! Just ask us….. 🙂

        • Or the butterflies, when they show up! 😀

  4. Julia,
    What a beautiful photo, and by your detailed description, even without seeing it, I’d visualize it as above.
    It brings a phrase to mind, that could be applied to a Butterfly, as well as lilies: “And not even Solomon in all his glory was clothed like one of these.”

    • Alan, that is a perfect verse for these lovely creatures, isn’t it? I wonder whether Frost was thinking of it when he compared them to flowers. I do think that photo is amazing. There are some very talented photographers sharing their work on Wikipedia Commons. I am so happy that so many artists see fit to share freely online, and allow all of us to enjoy what they create.

  5. singleseatfighterpilot


    • I’m so happy you like it!

  6. beautiful photo! I like butterflies. Another gift of God. I have a Leandra bush…it draws the butterflies in the summer. I must remember to take a picture of it. 🙂

    • Thanks Merry, I will look up “leandra” – I’m not familiar with it, but would love to draw more butterflies. Hope you have a wonderful weekend!

  7. Michael

    Leandra I don’t know , but traditional butterfly bush is Buddelia ‘Davidi.’

    • Michael, I don’t know anything about Leandra either, but I found a long list of them here. Very few photos, though. I think there are lots of shrubs that may attract butterflies in addition to the butterfly bush, but I would have to read up on it. If anyone has had lots of butterflies visiting a particular shrub, please let us know!

  8. Michael

    Any advice for Brazilian soccer team? Apparently they are in terrible despair for the worst sport’s defeat of all time. How can they go on? In response, someone read” K.C at the Bat” poem read by Vincent Price. Wonderful voice. Then they read another poem with a different ending-“K.C.’s revenge.”
    Also a Churchill quote on success-” Success is not static, failure not final, only continue.” SLT.

    • Michael, I show them Mark Kramer’s quote that I used in this blog post, which says sports are meant to be “a harbor, a seclusion from failure that really matters.” I would tell them that any one of them could go to the doctor this week and find out he would probably be dying soon, or could lose a loved one to a tragic accident. Sports are just sports, and failure in that realm does not really matter. A loss can be a good incentive to win on another day, as you point out, but no loss in sports is worthy of despair. Just my opinion.

  9. Michael

    That is a nice quote. And a dear friend got some bad news from a doctor just this last week. Like you say, kind of puts everything into perspective.
    We probably take sports way to seriously. Is part of that the obscene amounts of money involved? I don’t know. But here in Seattle a fan from an opposing football team was seriously beaten by locals last year resulting in some life changing injuries. Very sad.
    Another good Hummingbird plant is the Salvia “Hotlips” with little red and white flowers. Most red Salvias work pretty well.

    • Michael, I am sorry to hear about your friend. I think it is truly obscene how much money is tied up in sports. Then when you add in the out-of-control stuff such as people being trampled or beat up, it becomes obvious that things have gone SERIOUSLY awry. I think people are born to care passionately, and when they refuse to care about the people and things they should care about, they find counterfeits and substitutes. People who treat sports as being of life-and-death importance may fall into that category.

      I have tried Salvia a few times, but without much luck. I do like the way they look, though. Maybe I should give them another shot. It seems like I’ve seen butterflies around lantana a lot too; do you know whether they like that? Lantana is usually grown in dry climates, so you might not have it in Seattle.

  10. The transformation taken by a lowly caterpillar into the beautiful butterflies we see is nothing short of an absolute magical miracle of life. Maybe another reason I get so excited to have one visit near by or even land on me. It does bring a smile to my face to sit and watch one travel around a garden, flower to flower. One of life’s little pleasures for those of us who don’t need spills, chills and frills to enjoy it. This one is especially fetching isn’t it? Yesterday at work, I was chatting to my co-worker and a moth flew by the till and bumped into the window. Vicky was able to scoop it up and we relocated it outside in a garden bed. Poor thing had come in but couldn’t find it’s way out. I hope it recovered and got on with it’s travels.

    • Hopefully the little one was just dazed and woke up saying “Wow, I just had the weirdest dream…” or whatever the equivalent moth reflex would be. It is really amazing to think of the butterfly’s transformation. Talk about ugly duckling into swan! I think another reason for the butterfly mystique is that they are so fragile. I remember how sad I was the first time I tried to catch one and got the powder from its wings all over my fingers. I felt so bad for injuring it.

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