Green thickens on nearby hills and the yard has become a lush terrarium in which to lose myself. Lately, we have noticed large numbers of butterfly visitations—mostly the Tiger Swallowtail, but also some Black Swallowtails and smaller varieties too. These pilgrims seem tired, and I have noticed many are missing parts of their wings and their scales have been rubbed off until the wing is translucent. These raggedy guests seem a marking of the coming of summer’s end, and I watch with bittersweet emotion as they unwind their long tongues to taste my purple coneflower.
Always curious, I’ve been reading about the butterfly, which—like moths—are in the class Lepidoptera. Lepidos is Greek for “scales” and ptera means “wing.” I remember as a little girl my mother cautioning me not to touch the butterflies, for to do so would be to rub off some of its wing scales and endanger the beautiful creature. One source confirms this, telling me the scales “protect and insulate the insects and aid in the flow of air along their wings as they fly.” And they may also help the cold-blooded butterfly absorb heat into its wings. Butterflies cannot fly unless their body temperature is above eight-six degrees.
I read that there are some 28,000 species of butterflies worldwide and hosting the Tigers in my garden is the sweetest of all hospitalities. Something in their raggedy countenance this time of year awakens in me desire—desire to care for, desire to protect. At the least, a desire to provide comfort in their last days.
Endings are never easy. Some of you may have heard that The High Calling has decided to end its relationship with the editors who have worked for them these past few years. This is a hard goodbye, one we did not see coming, and so we are working through that grief, together and separately. I started volunteering for The High Calling back in 2009, when it was still a fledgling. In those early days, we made it our priority to make space for the small voice—to encourage new writers and mentor them in growing. As we changed our direction numerous times, I carried that mission with me, always trying to use my position to give voice to lesser known writers and provide platform opportunities. I know of few other online places who do this—so many spaces vying for the big names. This is just one of the unique qualities of a special place that will be missed. For me, this letting go is compounded by preparing to send our eldest off to college in a few weeks. I have felt such sadness in my spirit—it feels like my wings have a few less scales. But at the same time, there is beauty.
For to sorrow over a goodbye means that there was something of immense value that one is being parted from. And there has been so much to value in my time at The High Calling. It has been a lovely experience, one I will forever be grateful for. The connections I’ve made and the ways that I’ve grown through them will be a slow reveal, I think—something I will continue to live into for many years.
I may have more to say about that later, but for now, I will keep chasing butterflies.
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