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Pauline Lerner

July 20, 2005 at 5:02 AM

It’s summer in the Washington DC area – hot and humid, especially humid. Since I don’t have a car, I do a lot of walking, and since I have asthma, I do a lot of wheezing.

Today I went to one of my favorite photography spots, the Butterfly Garden at a local park. It is located in a conservatory (garden type, not music type). Because it was so hot, the butterflies were very active. Also, in order to keep the climate hospitable for butterflies, and not humans, the people who maintain the butterfly garden blow mist into it. I moved slowly and sipped surreptitiously from my water bottle. (No food or drink allowed.) There were several raging hordes of school children coming through. They all ran around and screamed at each other, scaring off the butterflies. Some of the little boys ran after the butterflies and tried to catch them, yelling all the while. I’ve never seen a little girl do that. Twice I pretended to be an authority figure and told the kids, “You can stay here, but only if you’re very, very quiet.” I don’t understand why teachers and parents bring kids to places like that and don’t even try to keep them under control. Now for the good news: There were lots and lots of butterflies and they were very active. As soon as I walked in, I was accosted by a couple of Blue morphos flying past me. Blue morphos are huge butterflies from Central America with beautiful, iridescent blue upper wings. When they sit still, usually to feed, they fold their wings up so that the gorgeous blue is not visible. This helps them hide from their predators. I have taken quite a few pictures of the Blue morpho underwings while they feed. They have a very interesting pattern which looks like a lot of eyes. One of my goals in life is to get a really good photograph of the blue upper wings. One of the women on the staff told me that they have more butterflies this year than they have in the past because they’ve learned more about breeding them. She showed me a few host plants, each associated with a different species of butterfly, and there were tiny eggs on some of them. When they reach the chrysalis stage, the staff people put them in an incubator which is a large, shallow box with a glass cover. The butterflies emerge from the chrysalis there, and last year, I got a photo of a Blue morpho coming out. The butterfly collection has some local butterflies and some butterflies from the rainforests of Central America. The latter include some with bright, vivid colors. The photo that I took today that I especially prize shows two monarchs mating. Last year I got some good photos of a pair of giant swallowtails mating.

I got into conversation with a guy whose camera was better equipped than mine for closeups. He showed me some previews in his digital camera of the photos he took today, and they were gorgeous. As soon as I get rich, or at least stably employed, I’m going to buy a camera like his. He told me that he frequently photographs butterflies at the Butterfly Garden and in his garden at his home. I wish I had the nerve to tell him that I’d love to see the butterflies in his home garden and then give him my business card. Scott68 has said that the way to flirt is to make an ass of yourself in public.

By the time I got home I was wiped out, and I crashed on the sofa for about an hour. I thought that I was out of groceries, so I planned to have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich followed by a lot of ice cream for dinner. When I opened the refrigerator, I saw a miracle – some leftover salad. I ate the salad and then a lot of ice cream.

I will post some of the photos I took today when I get some energy back. Meanwhile, I invite you to look at some of my earlier photos here, here, and here.

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