This past weekend, we crossed another item off of our Boston Bucket List and went to see The Science Behind Pixar exhibit at the Boston Museum of Science. Before we left, we stopped by their small Butterfly Garden. I learned my love for butterflies from my grandmother, who happily passed on her appreciation for the pretty, winged creatures through the stained-glass miniatures hanging from her kitchen window, trips to Callaway Gardens, and her stories.
Even now, I can hear her say the words, "There was once a beautiful butterfly," with the word beautiful drawn out for a few seconds in a sing-song voice.
The beautiful butterfly's name was Betsy and she lived in the trees outside of a little girl's house. She had a mother and a father, first one younger sister, and then another. She would flutter alongside of the little girl, who was her companion, as they rode bicycles around the neighborhood or collected seashells at the beach. Sometimes she was afraid of thunderstorms.
Betsy moved to a new house when she was five and had to make new friends, and one day she was nervous about her first day of school. Some days, her grandmother and grandfather would come to visit, and some days, Betsy would have to say goodbye until the next time they would come.
When the little girl turned seven, Betsy was there, on the homemade banner next to the Happy Birthday message, printed in a light gray, streaked font across several pages of perforated ditto paper with the holey edges that were fun to tear off. Betsy was there when the little girl turned sixteen in the shape of a small, jeweled butterfly pin, which the girl wore to her first Homecoming dance with a boy.
Betsy was there when the girl graduated high school and college, and Betsy was there when the girl turned twenty-five, one month before she married, inside of the box adorned with a strand of a dozen glittery paper butterflies that looked like greeting card cutouts tied together with fishing line: there, as three pink, porcelain butterflies--one large, one medium, and one small, its wing scarred from the time it cracked and needed to be glued back on--which the girl recognized as the three butterflies that had hung in her grandmother's home for as long as she could remember.
They followed the girl to Boston, where they hung in the girl's new home, watching as she burned the rice in the bottom of the pan, and covered the counter in a sticky, doughy, never-to-be-biscuits mess that first Easter Sunday morning, and baked her first loaf of bread nearly a year later, although she had to set the dough to rise over the heating vent in the floor because Boston is cold in the wintertime.
Betsy is there, on the wall in the kitchen. She'll be there when the girl moves to a new city and makes new friends. She'll be there the next time the girl burns the rice in the bottom of the pot. She'll be there when the girl has her own little girl or grand-girl someday who is nervous before her first day of school or is afraid of thunderstorms sometimes.
Betsy, the beautiful butterfly.
Trip to the Butterfly Center at Callaway Gardens, Georgia.