It was the end of the day. My boys had their newest attraction – a box turtle. We had safely tucked it into a lidded plastic storage bin with enough dirt, twigs, and rocks to make any landscaper proud. We even had a plastic sandwich box full of water, big enough for the turtle to take a dip. What we didn’t have, apparently, was turtle food. It wasn’t eating leaves. It wasn’t eating banana pieces. It wasn’t eating lettuce. As the boys headed up for their showers, I vaguely remembered that we once had a pet turtle, and we fed it live grasshoppers. I figured it couldn’t hurt to try. I stepped out the front door into the wooded night, but surprisingly didn’t see any bugs. The only thing buzzing around our front door light was a dragonfly, and he was way too big. “Any other day, I’d be swatting moths away from my face right now,” I thought. In desperation, I turned to the plastic pool we had set up for the summer. There were always wasps, bees, and other assorted bugs floating in it.
That’s when I saw the largest swallowtail butterfly I’ve ever seen…floating outspread in the pool. My heart sank. Poor thing. Her wings were bedraggled. She wasn’t moving. But she was still beautiful. (She was most definitely NOT turtle food. The turtle would just have to learn to like banana.) My mother’s most recent decorating fetish is butterflies, so I thought perhaps I could figure out a way to frame this butterfly. I got a piece of computer paper and carefully slid it under the butterfly. Bingo! I was able to lift her out, wings outstretched, and perfectly flat. I brought her inside and laid the paper on top of a cardboard box in the kitchen to dry.
I showed my prize to my husband and the boys. Hubby headed over to chat with a neighbor. I tucked the boys in and set to work cleaning up the kitchen. When I next checked on her, she looked to be drying well. Her antennae and legs weren’t stuck down anymore, and she seemed to have more colors than before. Her body was still plump, so it was easy to imagine what she might have looked like as a caterpiller. She looked so lifelike, I knew she’d be beautiful framed.
I watched TV for a few hours. My husband came home. We started turning off lights and heading up to bed. I checked on my butterfly. “She’s gone,” I yelled to my husband. “One of the cats ate her,” he replied. I couldn’t imagine…not that I’d put it past them, but I would have heard them getting on the box. There would be paper and…little butterfly parts…around. This was no crime scene. And then I saw her – perched on a pair of jeans hung over the stair railing beside the box! “Honey! She’s alive!” He came in to look in wonder, and then carefully lifted the jeans and carried her to the back deck. He deposited her on an aloe plant I had out there. She took a few steps and wiggled a little. She seemed content to perch for now, wings still outspread (and probably still drying).
I told my husband I was glad I saved her, even though it meant I couldn’t frame her. He told me that to frame her, we’d have had to dry her in the oven a few hours. I was glad he hadn’t told me that a few hours before!
The next morning I looked out onto the deck. She was gone. I turned back to the kitchen and saw the piece of computer paper still sitting on the box. On that paper was a perfect outline of her wings. I knew my mother would rather frame this outline than the butterfly’s body. Butterflies are often used as a symbol of the resurrection. But this…this was an extra-special resurrection symbol.