My Butterfly Year

Monarch butterfly with wings together sits on a tree. Photo from right side.

Monarch perched on a young oak tree in Buffalo Bayou (note – this is not the butterfly I saw. the one I saw was on a beautiful Lantana.)

Yesterday, the first wildlife I saw was a butterfly!  Hurray, this means this is finally a butterfly year!

“What in the world are you talking about, Risa?” you might be asking. (Particularly those of you who didn’t know me in college.)

Since I was 25, my relationship with my spirituality has been more than a bit fraught. Before then, I was pretty clear that there was something beautiful going on in the world, and that I, and everyone/everything I knew, was a part of it. And so when I was in high school, on one of my birthdays I was walking out the door to catch a bus when a hummingbird whirred right in front of me, about 2 feet from my face, then whirred closer for about 5 heartbeats before whirring away. It was a really unusual interaction and, me being the tree-hugger I was, I took it to heart. That was my “omen” for my birthday, and I called the rest of that year my hummingbird year.

So began a regular thing I did: first animal or insect life I *interacted* with (that wasn’t a super-common interaction for humans, so no dogs or cats, no pigeons or rats in NYC, no mosquitos/fleas – you get the idea) was the icon for my year. Being at Sarah Lawrence took its toll – one year was a skunk year ;) But otherwise, I had some interesting stuff go on. I had a bear year, a cicada year (ugh!), a raven year… so it went.

After 25 I dropped this innocuous little thing I did because I was losing any kind of faith in a benevolent deity, and while this didn’t really have to do with deities I still connected it to my general “OMG something beautiful and coordinated is going on in the world.” Thus, out it went.

(Imagine a montage here of a LOT of life events. Or maybe just imagine a “calendar fluttering to now” animation – it’d be less painful.)

Recently I’d been bemoaning my lack of creativity and my inability to really connect to the old creative juices I used to have, so I wrote down all the things I used to do to refill my creative well. A lot of them were directly connected to what I used to do when I was flush with the feeling of involvement with something bigger than myself. One of those things was “connecting to my Year omens.”

So I figured – that’s a simple thing to reconnect with.

And additionally, I was kinda curious. Close to Buffalo Bayou there is a ton of wildlife to interact with. Lizards, grackles, mockingbirds, Muscovy ducks, and dragonflies are common as one wanders around here, and we’ve seen turtles, mourning doves, rabbits, snakes and gray and white cranes as well. The butterflies are hardly uncommon, but I’m semi-surprised I saw that Monarch before I saw a lizard, duck or grackle. It’s also kind of lovely synchronicity, because one of Jon’s co-workers got me a pretty kalanchoe plant as a “Get Well Soon” gift, and the motif on the pot?

It’s a butterfly. :)

A pale yellow metal pot with a butterfly cutout

Pale yellow scalloped pot with butterfly cutout

So hurrah, butterfly year!