When the thermometer reads 100 degrees and the heat index is 110, going on an outdoor excursion willingly is bordering on the ridiculous, yes? I mean, who does this?! I do. But — red-faced, dripping with sweat (and not the kinda cute, girly kind of perspiration in a soft row just above the lips, but the in-your-eyes, bra-soaking, rolling-off -your-chin kind of sweat!) — I scored some sweet treasures.
Not five minutes into my foray, I made the acquaintance of this little fellow:
An American Snout-Nose Butterfly. Not all that common in gardens, I understand, except in years when a heavy rain is preceded by drought conditions, and then there’s a baby boom like you wouldn’t believe… no one knows for certain why, though there’s speculation that it’s because the hackberry shrubs, on which the larvae feed, send out so many new shoots that it’s feast time — until it’s not. And when that happens, the Jimmy Durantes of the butterfly world migrate. It’s not an organized, tidy migration like the monarchs manage, but a messy, devil-may-care one, in which no one seems to have a clear idea where they’re going. Presumably they’re going to find more hackberry shrubs. Wherever. And when they do, they fill the skies like snow flurries.
Case-in-point: Tuscon, Arizona, August 9th of 1966… a flock of migrating Snouts blackened the sky, squeezing out the sunlight until the street lights had to be turned on. Auto owners had to scrape thick layers of wings and noses from their windshields and grills that night, which makes me sad. Fortunately, my new S.N. friend was fully intact and cordial, posing for me at various angles: right-side up, up-side down, and mashed vertically against a twig, pretending to be a dead leaf, which I applauded for its comedic value.
This lovely lady was shrub-sharing with the Snout, two kids from different sides of the tracks.
To be honest, by this time I was hoping to bow out and hit the road…Had already been kamakazied by I don’t know HOW many Japanese Beetles, my sweat-soaked skin was becoming a bee magnet, and my ankles were being bitten by something hungry and indiscriminate.
But gardens are a tease, if you haven’t noticed… just about the time you sling that camera bag over your shoulder and fish for your car keys, something whistles or sings, something rustles in the grass, something catches a glint of sun and flings it back in your face, and the stage is set for a new show you’re hell-bent to watch. And so I did, and without complaint.
Had I wimped out on the rest of the walk, THIS is something I would have missed:
So okay, I’ll take the sun beating on my head like a mallet, the sting of the nettle, the bite of the chigger…The trade-off is more than a fair one, and I knew going into this that nature is not for wimps.