Have you found yourself amidst a kaleidoscope?

Painted ladies dance

In joyful kaleidoscopes

Through warm autumn days

The color combination of butterfly and sunflowers is autumn perfect.

This morning as I walked, I found myself surrounded by butterflies. There were so many, I stopped in wonder. And in joy. They flickered in front, beside, and over me, carrying me back to my childhood on the farm when masses of butterflies were common.

A butterfly spreads its wings and catches the sun.

What kind were they? I uploaded a picture to Facebook, asking for help.

It’s wings folded, she has an entirely different look.

Then my mind wandered to what a group of butterflies is called. Are they drifts? crowds? flocks? sweeps? I asked my smart phone.

A kaleidoscope of painted ladies congregate on sedum blossoms.

The answers as delightful as the butterflies. Painted ladies, they’re called. A group of butterflies is a kaleidoscope.

As a child, I played endlessly with a kaleidoscope, pointing the tube toward the sun, turning it around and around to create new colors and shapes. How fitting that the butterflies, flitting about as they do, splashing color here and there, are collectively a kaleidoscope.

The painted ladies inspired me to write the haiku above. When have you found yourself in wonder and joy with nature?

Comments

  1. Kathy Hopkins says:

    Carol, this is SO fantastic! I had the same experience a couple of days ago. Yes, I too, in wonder, just stood still in amazement as a kaleidoscope (love that!) of painted ladies flitted above, beside, and all around me! They love our sedum bushes which are new to our garden this year. Thank you for sharing your story. It warms my heart to know that a good friend (you!) had a similar experience with those butterfly beauties!

    • Carol Bodensteiner says:

      The painted ladies were everywhere, but they clustered most on sedum. I’d never noticed that before. I also forget from year to year about butterfly migrations. Apparently this the time for them and I’m happy to have walked into the middle of one.

  2. This morning my friend Traci put up Wendell Berry’s poem “The Peace of Wild Things” on Facebook. This afternoon, I had the chance to read it to my daughter, bringing tears to her eyes. This post and the poem partake of the same wonder.

    poet Wendell BerryPoet’s PagePoemsQuotesCommentsStatsBiographyShare on FacebookShare on Twitter
    Poems by Wendell Berry : 12 / 19 « prev. poem next poem »
    The Peace Of Wild Things – Poem by Wendell Berry

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    The Peace of Wild Things

    When despair grows in me
    and I wake in the night at the least sound
    in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
    I go and lie down where the wood drake
    rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
    I come into the peace of wild things
    who do not tax their lives with forethought
    of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
    And I feel above me the day-blind stars
    waiting for their light. For a time
    I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

    • Carol Bodensteiner says:

      That is a wonderful poem, Shirley, so appropriate to the cares of this time. Thanks for sharing it. The poem also speaks to our conversation today because in reading it, I feel hope, not distopian despair.

  3. A kaleidoscope of painted ladies, wonderful! We live not far from a butterfly sanctuary. It’s in a small forest that edges out to a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean. When the ladies are open for visitors one can go and sit in the little forest and they float by, hundreds of them. It’s pure magic. Love your photos. 🙂

    • Carol Bodensteiner says:

      Thank you, Paulette. There is a park in western Iowa that sits at the top of a bluff overlooking the Missouri River. The area is along an avian flyway. During spring and fall bird migrations, you can go there and see birds passing through at eye level. I agree, it’s magic.

  4. Pure delight, Carol!
    I think I had read that a group of butterflies is a kaleidoscope–how perfect.

  5. Elfrieda NEUFELD SCHROEDER says:

    I learned something new today: a kaleidoscope of butterflies how lovely is that?! Thanks Carol, your post made me happy today! And I loved the poem Shirley Showalter provided in her comment.

    • Carol Bodensteiner says:

      I’m glad I was able to brighten your day with such a delightful factoid. The poem Shirley shared brought me a moment of peace. I’ve printed it off to hang by my computer. Have a good weekend, Elfrieda.

  6. Billie Wade says:

    How breathtaking to experience a kaleidoscope of butterflies. How aptly named is their gathering. I also like the name Painted Ladies. Carol, your haiku is beautiful. I, too, am printing the poem Shirley shared. Thank you for a lovely post.

  7. When I first saw the heading of your post, I was traveling and unable to read your entire message. Your headline question took on an entirely different meaning, as I was indeed “amidst” a “kaleidoscope” of chaos helping two kids move and texting my sister on Irma-torn St. Thomas. But now, as I am soothed by your gentle Haiku, nod knowingly at your curiosity, and chuckle at your use of that helpful research tool, the smartphone, I finally understand. What a delightful look at the wonders of nature – I hope I experience a kaleidoscope of painted ladies someday! Wonderful post, Carol.

    • Carol Bodensteiner says:

      Kaleidoscope can, indeed, resonate differently depending upon one’s circumstances. Context is everything. I trust you got your kids moved, and I hope your sister is safe after Irma passed. What a chaotic time we are in. I’m glad my haiku offered the more gentle and pleasant side of nature for you to contemplate, Nan.

  8. Mary Gottschalk says:

    Again, I loved this. Not so much the clothing question (Kent and I have pared our wardrobes down the bare pickings), but the questions that arise as we watch the consequences of the hurricanes. I want to do so much to help, but it is the question I struggled with for years living in NYC … if I gave to every worthwhile person or cause, I’d be there with them.

    Am I willing to do that … it would seem not … and that is not always a good feeling.

    • Carol Bodensteiner says:

      I struggle with that problem, too, Mary. To whom to give and then how to do it so the gift has real value and actually gets where I intended. Whether to give a little to many or a lot to a few. I admit I haven’t arrived at a definitive answer.

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