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My first butterfly of spring is sprung

March 29, 2016


Monday evening at 9 p.m. (March 28), I was heading east to go to bed, even before the sun behind me had finished setting in the west. I still wasn’t 100 percent over my Easter bout with the flu and my busy day had left me feeling as rundown as a flatfooted roadrunner.

The morning had seen me make another scheduled pickup at the Downtown Eastside condo that occasionally puts aside returnable beverage containers for me. This time, in addition to containers I was gifted by one of the residents with a fluffy fresh Taiga sleeping bag all packed away in a brand new MEC dry bag!

So, not only was I looking forward to eight or nine solid hours of healing sleep, I was especially looking forward to doing it in this featherlight puffball of a sleeping bag (which was pretty sweet—thanks Carmen!).

My bedtime routine, as I’ve mentioned before, includes collecting some broadsheet newspaper to go under my bike trailer—six to eight overlapping sheets—to intercept any drips from the empty beverage containers (never as empty as I’d like) that are bagged and bungeed onto my bike trailer.

I invariably get the newsprint from a blue bin set located just around the corner from my parkade, in the mouth of the covered entrance way to another parkade. Sometimes I also get some returnables.

Monday evening I was especially lucky. I got the newsprint, I got some bottles and I got to see my first butterfly of the year. If that wasn’t enough, I even got to save the butterfly’s life!

 Life can be cheap (both in the taking and the giving)

A butterfly caught in both the glare of a fluorescent light and spider web.

A butterfly caught in both the glare of a fluorescent light and a spider web.

Monday’s butterfly was small and white but it wasn’t a cabbage white like I photographed last fall. Whatever its species, it was mindlessly flitting about the length of a naked fluorescent light fixture that was fitted across the mouth of the parkade entrance way.

As luck would have it, there were no fresh new spider webs to ensnare it; instead, the butterfly flew straight into a bit of old web left over from last year.

The butterfly stopped moving as soon as it came in contact with the web. I watched it for about two minutes, in which time it didn’t so much as twitch a muscle.

The butterfly was perfectly still but the camera seems to have been moved.

The butterfly was perfectly still; it was the camera that was apparently moved.

I pondered which was meant to benefit from such hard-wired behaviour—butterflies or spiders. I also reflected that if this butterfly had gotten stuck in another web four weeks ago in the parkade where I sleep, then my previous post about a certain spider would’ve likely ended differently.

But here there would be no spider to dash in and live at the expense of the hapless flier.

So I rolled up a piece of broadsheet newspaper and used it to gently break the web. Once freed, the butterfly sprang to life and—as if nothing had happened—began again to flit about the length of the naked fluorescent light fixture. After about 30 seconds though, it jerkily flew off into the darkness.

With the little episode having drawn itself to a satisfactory conclusion I toddled off to my parkade and was asleep seemingly within moments of being tucked into my new deep blue downy sleeping bag. And any dreams I may have had were more likely of cocoons than butterflies. Click the images to enlarge them.

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