Lessons & Reflections from the National Butterfly Center
I’ve taken a million butterfly photos only to get a few hundred good ones. Not even great ones, just good. Some “pretty good,” and a few I’m a little proud of, but mostly a lot of shots where I felt lucky the wind didn’t blow and the butterfly didn’t move. I know DSLR cameras and automatic settings are supposed to make it easy for true amateurs like me to take great pictures, but it’s just not the case. It takes practice. And patience. And then perseverance.
When I think about photography, I think about those baking shows on TV. The shows where a bunch of hungry competitors are challenged to make the perfect cupcake in 30 minutes, or something ridiculous like that. You can give it a try, but your cupcake will not be half as good as theirs because baking is all about Chemistry; and creating recipes or making something from scratch requires a lot of knowledge and a lot of trial by fire. In other words, you have to make—and toss—a bunch of bad cupcakes before you get some pretty good ones, the same way you have to take and erase countless bad pictures.
This Earth Day, I got to see nature and the National Butterfly Center through a new lens, again, like a spectator enjoying some curiosity (reference the championship bakers on TV). Beyond the everyday questions like, “What is the place?’ and “Why are you doing this?” we faced some criticism and got a few complaints about things the initiated would never think to mention.
This past Saturday, we celebrated Spike’s 14th birthday party. (He’s our giant, African Spurred Tortoise, in case you didn’t know.) The morning temperatures started in the 40s, and rose only slightly, which means we thin-blooded Valley folks were FREEZING!!
As I led a couple dozen Girl Scouts down the Hackberry Trail, we were stopped in our tracks, repeatedly, by downed butterflies; they, too, were freezing. Fortunately, the girls were careful not to step on these sleeping beauties, so I showed them how best to handle and relocate them to some place safe and warm.
Throughout this chilly morning, we talked about weather and seasons, and all the needs we humans have to survive the world in which we live. As always, I was awed by their energy and curiosity.