It was Labor Day weekend, and my husband, Chris, and I had decided to treat ourselves to Subway sandwiches for supper. When we parked at the New Richmond Subway restaurant, we noticed a Black Swallowtail butterfly on the ground in front of our vehicle. I poked my cane in its direction, to see if it was still alive, and it stood its ground, rather than flying away. I took a closer look and noticed that it had a very tattered wing on one side, and only half a wing on the other; it was a grounded butterfly in a concrete jungle.
After we got our sandwiches and headed back to the truck, I stopped to look at the butterfly again. It was a stalwart little guy, despite his deformities, and I couldnâ€™t resist the impulse to gently pick him up by his wings and take him home with us, to die in a nice garden. Chris had already guessed what I would do, so he had made a little nest for the butterfly on the console. As we drove out of the parking lot, the butterfly walked out of the nest, up the front of my shirt to my shoulder, then to the headrest of my seat. There he rode, for the five miles to our house, standing firmly and gazing at the road ahead, looking like a tiny, winged dog.
At home, I picked him up and placed him on a cone flower in the garden, but the wind was making it tough for him to hang on. I moved him to a more sheltered location, and he stalked off as if insulted that I thought he needed any further assistance.
Now, I know a more pragmatic person might have stepped on the butterfly, to end its suffering, or just left it there to let nature take its course, but that little guy seemed so courageous, ready to face anything but unable to take one more flight. I just had to follow my instinct to give him a good place to die. I take my life lessons wherever I can get them, and it appears that even a lowly insect can teach me about respect for a strong spirit.