Friday, May 19, 2006


with butterflies

Today we went to the zoo. Winston’s objective was to see crocodiles. There aren’t any. There were alligators.

However, the pair at the zoo were dozing in their pool. Snuggled on top of each other like we do at night. Nice. But, well, not fascinating.

We found Raja at home, strutting through his gigantic Komodo Dragon Palace. Cool.
But, suddenly, chips seemed like the most interesting thing to do at the zoo. And with big rain promising damp fleece and oozing shoes, chips it was.

From the cafe, we saw the new Butterfly Paradise. It looks like a cross between a bouncy castle and an oversized caterpillar. We resolved to visit the Butterfly Home immediately after chips. Not only would it be shelter from the rain - but it is part of an ongoing obsession of Winston’s.

Over fifty butterflies - a myriad of shapes and colours - took wing the moment we entered Butterfly Paradise. Entranced, Winston promptly began chasing them. He held his hand out to them. He called to them. He beseeched them to let him hold them. He promised to be gentle.

Something in his soul was simultaneously stirred and stilled. He really, really wanted to hold them. He wanted to commune with the butterflies.

It was a busy time in Butterfly Paradise. Lots of busy children racing through shouting, A butterfly! A butterfly! A butterfly! And out the door they went.

As usual, Winston froze every time a parcel of toddlers raced through. He’d just stop moving. His eyes quickly darted in every direction - hoping not to be noticed; taking in their relative position to the space around his body; ready to respond; on alert. His whole body rigid the entire time.

And in this moment he found within himself, the benefits of stillness. A blue butterfly landed on his arm. It fluttered there -

probably tasting the sip of soda which had dribbled down his chin at snack. Maybe a taste of the toothpaste from after lunch. Who knows? But, it lingered up and down his shirt before winging off to a leaf nearby.

Should I even say Winston was thrilled?

It is enough to say that we spent about three hours today in Butterfly Paradise. A place where if your body and soul are quiet, these fluttery, ephemeral creatures will spend a moment with you. Three hours of a three year old practising being absolutely contained and quiet within himself. Being rewarded for voluntarily making the choice to be quiet, calm,

still. Here is the gold

in the straw.

Final thoughts: I keep returning to the fact that he is now three years old. And that this is the time in his life which most resembles that of the final stages of a butterfly. He is emerging. Drying his wings. And poised for flight as a boy - not a baby.

But, sometimes it is so hard to be part of a child’s process. The Butterfly Paradise staff thought I was kind of kooky for the first hour. The second hour, they sympathised with me and agreed that, yes, it would be nice if there was a bench. In the third hour, The Head Butterfly Keeper took pity on us and let Winston hold a butterfly in his hand. Again - the gold in the straw.

Stillness. Quiet. Acceptance. Reward.


Jax said...

I wish that we lived close enough for our little boys to meet. Small likes butterflies too.

Christina Springer said...

That would be splendid. And, there are these newfangled instruments I've heard of called "trains." And I've heard that there are places called "Inns," as well. Maybe I should invesitgate these peculiar modernities.

paula said...

That's a lovely post Christina. Winston sounds mesmerised, my son was like that when he was younger. We go to our local buterfly house now and he cant wait to get out of there! I am glad you had a good time.

Jax said...

There are indeed such new fangled items, and we'd be very happy to see you! Mail me off blog?