On Butterflies, Discovery, and Magic

Today I set out to photograph some wildflowers that I’ve seen on my run on the road where I live.  It is a little country road—barely enough room for two cars to pass—so there aren’t many places to park.  I decided to park in the grass near a neighbor’s house that was about 1/8 of a mile from the flowers I planned to photograph.  Just as I started to walk to the spot where the flowers were growing on a bank, I glanced over to my right and was startled to notice hundreds of butterflies in the wildflowers and weeds growing between the road and the woods.  I spent an hour glued in that one spot taking over 200 photographs, soaking up the gorgeous weather (70 degrees and low humidity–we live for fall here in Georgia!),  and reveling in the magic and beauty of the butterflies drunk on nectar and sunshine.  To suddenly be in such close proximity to these butterflies, whom I have always considered ethereal, elusive envoys of nature—it was an unexpected and unplanned experience of pure unadulterated joy.

As I left the spot to get in my car and return home, it occurred to me that sometimes we find joy and magic where we least expect it or in a place we didn’t think to look.  As librarians and teachers, we are all about laying out strategic plans, goals, and projects with specific details.  However, this golden hour today reminded me that while having a plan or specific goal is a positive thing, being open to discovery and dwelling in “other” spaces can often lead us to insights and new focal points for our work that relate to our overarching mission.  I set out to do one specific task looking to photograph one aspect of nature, but instead, I wandered into something else that while different, was equally beautiful and in some ways, more meaningful.  As I continue my work as a librarian, I hope I’ll keep this memory close and remember to keep my eyes open to all possibilities, not just the ones I originally envisioned for myself.

I’ve included a few photos in the slideshow below of today’s experience–enjoy!

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17 comments

  1. I think there’s another lesson to be learned and that is the joy that comes from small things. Too often, librarians fight battles that make us feel like we’re on a professional Survivor. Yet there are moments that can bring satisfaction: the kid who loved the book that you recommended, the other kid who says thank you. These brighten up a day too.

  2. Gorgeous. Did you happen to write this on the day we had that maddening conversation about how to disrupt institutional tradition and influence on teachers and librarians’ on-the-ground decisions? (It was maddening because of the content of the conversation, not because of the players :) ) Because I think that was the day that I wrote a similarly themed piece called To DEAR or to DREAM (DRop Everything And Make): http://developingwriters.org/2012/09/14/to-dear-drop-everything-and-read-or-to-dream-drop-everything-and-make/ . Yes, we and the youth we work with need more time to dwell and the freedom to be open to discovery. Lovely pictures and thoughts, indeed.

  3. Yep, it is the little things that make our jobs so worthwhile. I had a senior bring me a birdhouse made of broken china that she had made for me because she had noticed I loved birds. She bought it the last day of school for her here at this campus..I had watched her grow from a PK student. That made all the other hassels of my job disappear in an instant!

  4. Great pictures. They are difficult to catch with wings spread on a flower. When I try it, they are always flitting around too fast. Of course, a good camera may make the difference! Thank you for sharing.

  5. I love that you still have a road like this to walk down. In big cities the concreteness of everything is dimming and dank. I like the direction Chicago is going with their use of greening up the tops of buildings and letting water flow through the streets to help with the heat. Maybe fireflies might return.

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