BUTTERFLY POOP


Now that rainy season has begun, the parched brown landscape of April has morphed back into lush green jungle. Plants, animals, and humans are all rejoicing at the explosion of life. Each year when the rain returns I am reminded of the scene in the movie version of The Wizard of Oz when the film changes from black and white to color.

Each year at the start of rainy season, the critters and bugs switch it up a bit. One night a few weeks ago when I went out on the porch to start the grill, a nasty little yellowjacket landed on my arm and launched into the most savage sting operation I'd ever encountered. Running my fingers down my arm did nothing to deter the little beast. I had to really rub to get it to stop stinging me. Looking up, I noticed several of the bee's comrades buzzing around the light above my head. I decided to cook inside.

The next day, after another vicious sting, we noticed that the yellowjackets were flying in and out of a hole in the side of the grill. With the bees being so very nasty, we decided it was time to bring out the dreaded Baygon to spray them dead. Bill stuck the tip of the can in the hole and fired away. A few hours later we lifted the lid of the grill to find, along with a sizeable pile of dead bees, this astonishing example of psychedelic architecture:

It's a veritable apian pagoda! We've detached it from the grill and it's now sitting on my bathroom counter waiting for a permanent home. It's so beautiful and so delicate I wish I could find a big glass jar in which to store it because I fear that, like everything else, it won't hold up long in the jungle. Between each tier are several incredible support columns. The whole thing is as light as a feather. It is truly a masterpiece. When I showed it to Geyner, who works for us, he told me the nasty bees that created this exquisite structure were meat-eaters and that was why they had chosen to take up residence in our grill. I'd never heard of meat-eating bees before, but with the way they went after my arm, I had no trouble believing him.

One day Chan painted my bathroom. The next day the butterflies moved in. How lovely! A freshly painted little bathroom full of butterflies! What could be more charming? The butterflies, like everything, run in cycles, and this past week my house has been filled with them. Having a house full of butterflies is fun for about ten minutes. After that I get so concerned that they can't find their way out I spend a large part of every day capturing them and bringing them outside. The most I've ever caught in one scoop is five. It's crazy to have five butterflies flapping around inside your cupped hands. Then you open up your fingers and feel an exhilarating wave of relief as they fly off to where they belong.

Here are some butterflies on parade on my kitchen windowsill:

Releasing them takes a bit of time, as it is an ongoing project, but it's so satisfying that mostly I don't mind doing it. What I'm not crazy about is cleaning up butterfly poop. Butterflies poop? Really? Who knew? I certainly didn't. Why there's even a name for it: frass. Here you can see just what butterfly poop looks like on my fresh yellow paint and the toilet tank top. (Clever butterflies! At least they chose the right room and aimed for the toilet.)

I'm using this butterfly poop to remind me that nothing in life is perfect. The whimsically romantic notion of a house filled with butterflies must by nature be counterbalanced with the reality of butterfly poop. People who think their lives should by right be as perfect as the lives depicted on Facebook have no chance of ever finding true happiness. It is so much easier for humans to rejoice in what's good when they have something bad for comparison. The lower you get, the higher you'll soar when you turn it around. Old people die. Brand new babies come to replace them. Yin and yang, light and dark, it's all in the dance of life.

The next time something bad happens or you simply get discouraged, think of butterfly poop. Ya gotta have it, so clean it up, let it go, and move on. Cleaning up the poop and moving on will make you feel as exuberant as five butterflies being released from a finger trap;)