Pear blossoms and butterflies

Sunday, April 27, 2003

Spring came in through my 16-paneled window on little pear-blossomed cat's feet. I didn't know she even wanted to get in.

A visitor, looking out the window, exclaimed, "Oh, what beautiful pear trees!"

"Where?" I demanded.

"Right there." She pointed at them and looked at me with alarm, no doubt thinking I had lost the rest of my vision.

And there they were, standing like huge white bouquets, sent down from above.

Our town, of course, is known as the City of Roses. It's a beautiful name, but I wonder if the City of Pear Blossoms might be a more fitting title.

Roses are beautiful but require so much work -- fertilizing, watering, pruning, dusting, spraying, mulching. Stick a couple of flowering pear trees in the ground and you get healthy and carefree beauty. Squirrels, birds and bees love them. A bonus is beautiful foliage in the autumn.

Now then, how many mouths have fallen open at my suggestion? Just mull on it a while. It could even be "City of Pear Blossoms and Roses." I had expected spring to come in with a flutterbie. What does one call a large number of butterflies? Cattle are herds. Chickens, flocks. Bees are swarms. Why not a flutterbie?

I have six beautiful plastic butterflies stuck to my window. They were a Christmas gift from my granddaughter, Lauren. The largest is about the size of my hand. The division marks in the wings appear to be leaded material, just like in stained-glass windows. One is free to paint the wings as he or she likes. Lauren did a great job, not too gaudy, not too pale. There is B.W., short for Blue Wing. The tiger swallow tails are all called Tigers. The great spangled fritillary I call Frit.

I noted that the Zion Methodist Church at Gordonville had a "butterfly release" on Easter Sunday. How lovely. I knew that butterflies could be ordered by mail. I just never knew anyone who did it. I wonder how they come. In a screen-wire box? A perforated cigar box? What do they feed on along the way? Or does it take only an hour or two on the highway to get them to their destination? I also wonder when they are released, do they all flutter out at the same time? Or, over an hour or two? (Since writing the above I have learned that they come in individual boxes. Marian, one of my physical therapists, said she attended a wedding once and all of their guests opened the boxes at the same time.)

I have found little silken cocoons and brought them home to watch butterflies come out. All I saw come out was usually a big bluish-and-green moth with a spot on each wing. I've learned that these round spots look like eyes in order to ward off any kind of bird or bat that might swoop down to get a mouthful of moth.

Everything has a house built for it. Even butterflies. They are decorated wooden boxes about 2 feet long, 10 inches wide and 5 inches deep. On the front of the box are thin little slits. If the butterfly folds its wings together, it might make it in with only one antenna broken and a piece of the swallowtail hanging loose.

Poor butterflies. I'm sure they would much prefer the underside of a milkweed leaf. That's where they get their start.

I once decided I needed a butterfly bush. So, in it went, in my flower border. Big mistake. It got so big and brushy it crowded out the pink phlox and purple coneflower. Out it went to a place farther away. The butterflies stayed.


Jean Bell Mosley is an author and longtime resident of Cape Girardeau. Her article "Green Grape Pie" recently was selected as the favorite story in a reader survey for Angels on Earth, a Guideposts publication.

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