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1 September 2002

Whatever happened to butterflies?

butterfly.JPG (24124 bytes)I rode out into the country this morning (15 miles before breakfast) and at my turn-around spot, I looked down and saw the wing of a dead butterfly. When you're all alone out in the country, with miles to go back into town, your brain begins to think about things like that.

Like--why don't you see butterflies any more?

It seems like I used to see butterflies all the time when I was a kid. I suppose that the encroachment of society, the increase in pollution, and the diminishing of open spaces accounts for why you don't see them much in areas that I am most known to frequent.

I remember when we spent summers at Sunnyside Cottages in Boyes Hot Springs, near Sonoma. We saw lots of butterflies there. I particularly loved the big yellow ones with black markings. There were also lots of the orange and black monarch butterflies.

I am ashamed to say we used to catch them and mount them, put pins through their wiggling bodies to attach them to a special board. I still remember how a powdery substance came off of the wings as we tried to hold them to get the pins in. The very thought of doing that today makes me cringe. (I just heard a great thing this morning for teaching children respect for all life. Rather than put a ban on killing bugs, this mother made a rule--if you kill it, you eat it. That stopped the sadistic killing real quick!)

Even gardens that promise to be butterfly lures don't seem to have a lot of the colorful creatures. It just seems that they are very rare these days.

butterfly2.jpg (15021 bytes)When I was visiting Texas some years back, my friend Lynn and I went to Galveston and while there visited Moody Gardens, Galveston's biggest attraction. Two gigantic pyramids, one for the new aquarium, and one for the Rain Forest, a couple of IMAX theatres, a science museum, a paddlewheel boat to ride around the gulf on, and perhaps a few other things.

Since we got there so late, and since it was absolutely mobbed, we only did the rain forest, but that was terrific. The best part was that exotic butterflies and tropic birds fly free. They incubate butterfly larvae and twice a day release newly hatched butterflies into the forest, so it's not unusual for you to walk along and be dive bombed by some gorgeous creature, living out its brief lifespan giving some pleasure to gawkers like me.

While I was riding around this morning, mulling over the diminished butterfly population, I remembered a book I bought years and years ago. It's a book of artwork and poetry done by children at Theresienstadt concentration camp from 1942 to 1944. The title of the book is I Never Saw Another Butterfly, and it is taken from a line of a poem by Pavel Friedmann, born in 1921, deported to Terezin on April 26, 1942 and died in Oswietim on September 29, 1944. The poem was written April 6, 1942:

The last, the very last
So richly, brightly, dazzlingly yellow.
Perhaps if the sun's tears would sing
       against a white stone...
       Such, such a yellow

Is carried lightly 'way up high
It went away I'm sure becuase it wished to
       kiss the world goodbye.

For seven weeks I've lived here,
Penned up inside this ghetto
But I have found my people here.
The dandelions call to me
And the white chestnut candles in the court.
Only I never saw another butterfly.

That butterfly was the last one.
Butterflies don't live here,
       In the ghetto.


Quote of the Day

I only ask to be free. The butterflies are free.

- Charles Dickens

Picture of the Day

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One Year Ago
Prison vs. Freedom
I had no idea that visiting rules were so strict. There was a 5 year old boy wearing jeans whose mother was told he could not wear jeans into the prison, and so they had to find other clothes for him. A young girl, about 3, was wearing a sundress on this hot day, and they wouldn't let her in because they were afraid it would "entice" some of the inmates.

Two Years Ago
Some Amazing Dames
Alice is turning 87. My mother will be 81. Neither of them is old. No matter how many years they live, they will both always be young.

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Pounds Lost:  75.1
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On the Odometer:  633.5
(on Aug. 1 I had biked 433.8...not too bad for an old lady!!!)

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