Butterflies have always held special meaning to me. Haven’t thought about this in so long, but my very first personal e-mail address was email@example.com. I would twist my hair in corn rows and secure with glittery butterfly clips. I even took to painting stenciled butterflies on my furniture in high school. Once I wrote a paper about butterflies in my English class with Miss Bestor at Orem High School. When I got it back, she had secured a beautiful antique butterfly pin with wings on springs to it with a note about how she also shared the same appreciation. In college I painted my self-portrait as a butterfly emerging from a tattered cocoon titled “Destination.” I’ve since met many other free spirits throughout my life who also see this winged wonder as a personal metaphor.
When I was living in Provo as a single adult and trying to put my messy patchwork life together in some kind of order, I would mount my bike and take flight on the Provo River Trail just down the road from my apartment. Being surrounded by towering trees, singing songbirds, and the sound of the flowing river grounded me. The sensation of the breeze rushing past my face as I sped as fast as my legs could pedal felt like pure freedom. Sometimes I would find my balance and courage on even parts of the trail to open up my arms like Winged Victory and let the bicycle wheels carry me on. On days when I was having a particularly hard time, I would count fluttering butterflies as I passed by on my bike. Sometimes I saw only two; other times, I saw one hundred and twenty. I used to tally them in my paper planner to see how many I could count in a week. They became to me what some refer to as “God Winks.” It felt to me like God had sent them to me as little reminders that He was aware of me that day. During our first year of marriage, I kept count on a whiteboard mounted on our fridge. That year I counted over 400 — most of which had fluttered through our backyard and garden! I even had one land on my finger in our greenhouse last September and Wally captured a photo just in time. How I treasure these simple moments!
Since I first saw a billboard ad on the freeway in 2018 about the grand opening of a Butterfly Biosphere at Thanksgiving Point coming in January of 2019, you can imagine I had my heart set on seeing it with my own eyes. Wally surprised me with tickets for my birthday last year as a Christmas gift. I was over the moon with excitement! I can hardly believe the photos from this post are from one year ago today and seeing them again makes me smile. We had a lovely time and made sweet memories that day! Since my mobility is limited this year I wanted to take a trip down memory lane and share some of the highlights of this experience.
The eight-foot sculpture by Dennis Smith pictured below is suspended in the entry of the exhibit. His hope was for guests to imagine themselves as the girl sitting on the winged contraption, ready to take flight. When we saw this in person a year ago the beauty of its presence took my breath away. This is what I hope age 32 will be like: a time of courage to open up my arms to life again, spread my wings, put my trust in God, and soar into the unknown!
When you look at her, what do you see? What does this work of art mean to you?
I have always loved seeing preserved butterflies under glass and there is no shortage of them throughout the first half of the self-guided exhibit. The extraordinary array of sizes, shapes, species, and colors left me with a sense of awe. They are all known by the same name — butterfly — yet each one is so unique with characteristics all its own from various parts of the world. Butterflies are a lot like people. People are a lot like butterflies.
I wish I had taken down the name of this particular blue variety, but it caught my attention. The vibrancy of that indigo! The iridescent shimmer! The delicacy of the veins! Goodness. Sometimes the miracles of nature just leave me speechless. I wonder if the little green caterpillar munching on leaves and just doing her thing could have ever imagined that this is what she would grow up to become. Probably not. But still, I wonder. I wonder if butterflies exist as silent but undeniable evidence of miracles and hope and a Divine Creator. I wonder.
This cute little guy was perched on the glass as we went down the ramp to enter the tropical biosphere as if to say hello and give us a foreshadowing of more magic still to come.
The exotic assortment of plants inside the humid biosphere was a feast for the eyes and senses! Butterflies graced around in their own time and way, some staying for only a moment and others content for a long rest. I’ve never seen so many varieties all in one place. Truly a spectacular experience, especially for children.
One of my favorite places to observe the butterflies was in the bird bath dishes filled with fruits. Seeing them drink the nectar and feast upon its life-giving forces was indeed, sweet.
One of the bright blue variety briefly landed on our hands. I wish I had been fast enough to take a photo! This one will have to do and I like it just the same. It was so fun to hear sounds of delighted surprise from patrons who had butterflies perch on them. If you wear white, pink, or yellow it’s more likely they’ll see you as a flower and pay you a visit!
The staff raise new butterflies from pupas on display in the Emergence Chambers until metamorphosis is complete. This was one of the most fascinating parts of the whole exhibit! We saw a couple of butterflies that had recently emerged with crumpled wings, sitting above their former safety cocoon. I hadn’t really thought about the fact that being squished inside a confined space for so long wouldn’t result in wings that were automatically ready to fly. Between one to two hundred fully mature butterflies from between fifty to sixty different species are released each day. Wow. If I were to work here I think I would surrender trying to count all these God Winks… that in and of itself would be a full-time job!
Life is a balance of holding on and letting go…
Some ancient wisdom still circulating our earth from our friend, Socrates.
If you live in Utah or find yourself passing this way, I would highly recommend taking an afternoon to visit The Butterfly Biosphere at Thanksgiving Point. We found it to be an uplifting experience and hope to return for another visit again someday. My hope for anyone reading this post today is to take note of these incredible creatures this year. Get up close if you can. Find out what the rich symbolism of rebirth, transformation, and flight means to you at this season of life. For me I think it’s about learning the art of trust and in taking creative risks to share more of my work. Whatever the future may hold, my wish is that it will be full of possibilities for all who dare to dream!
Love & Light,