Tuesday, August 10, 2010

butterflies, everywhere

Since Lucy started looking into butterflies, we've seen a lot of butterflies. This is the classic situation of once you buy a blue Ford, everyone has a blue Ford. Except nicer, because they're butterflies, and they're free.

I'm not much of a naturalist. I was, a bit, when we lived in the Sonoran desert as a kid--Arizonans take seriously their education about the desert, so I knew all about barrel cactus, and how to tap them for water in case of being lost, and why ocotillos get flowers after a rain. But we studied birds for one unit in fourth grade, and I dutifully took out my bird guide around the house to get some sightings, and I think I saw fewer birds than I did when I wasn't paying attention.

It's a little embarrassing, actually, to see a white butterfly with your child and know nothing about what it is. Is it common? Rare? What does its larvae eat? And what the heck do you call it? I mean, I'm all for letting her discover things on her own, but I'd like to be smugly informed while she does it.

But funnily enough, after a few butterfly books, and a few weeks of looking at them, we're both starting to learn. Today we saw a butterfly that I used to think was a moth (until I learned moths fly at night).
"Look, mama, a skipper," Lucy said. And it was. So: my daughter is a genius. And: I have come a long way. Not two years ago, a friend wrote a poem about a skipper in my MFA program, and I thought it was nautically themed, not a treastise about environmental degradation.

About those ever-present white butterflies? Cabbage whites, I think. Common. Destructive. But still, so pretty, with their ivory wings with the greyish green spot in the corner.

It's lovely see more deeply, and to do it with my daughter.

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