Friday, July 23, 2010

First Impressions

By the side of the house is a nice patch of tall white phlox, of the variety David, and it's been thriving there for years.  Tuesday afternoon, I noticed a tattered swallowtail butterfly flitting about, drinking in the nectar.  I was thinking about that poor ragged butterfly, wondering how its wings were damaged, when a beautiful swallowtail, a perfect specimen, swooped down and started beating up on our friend.  And I have to say, I was a bit shocked.  Of course, none of us is surprised by the fact that this world we live in isn't paradise, but without pondering the matter, I had always harbored the vague impression that butterfly interactions were peaceful.  Perhaps they seemed too beautiful to be touched by the violence of this planet.
After being pummeled for a few minutes, the Tattered Butterfly (let's call him TB) went into a defensive mode, clinging, flattened, to the phlox while the Beautiful Butterfly (BB) continued to assault him.  There were plenty of blossoms to go around, I counted well over 50, and it seems they could have shared, but before long TB lifted his battered wings and flew off, leaving the entire patch to BB.  I've spared you all but about 16 seconds on the video.  I probably should have tried to take BB's picture, but he didn't seem beautiful anymore.  Beauty is as beauty does.

The light dawned for me Friday afternoon, when I saw BB with his new mate.  She was beautiful in her own right, but their synchronized dance was a sight to behold.  They flew in swift joyous sweeps over the grass and fluttered in and out of the flowers.  Once again, the patient observer in me would have been rewarded by being, well, patient.  Maybe next time.

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